Silicon stable isotope fractionation between metal and silicate at high-pressure, high-temperature conditions as a tracer of planetary core formation

J. Kempl, P. Z. Vroon, B. Van Der Wagt, E. Zinngrebe, D. J. Frost, W. Van Westrenen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The largest differentiation event in Earth and other terrestrial planets was the high-pressure, high-temperature process of metal core segregation from a silicate mantle. The abundant element silicon (Si) can be partially sequestered into the metallic core during metal-silicate differentiation, depending on pressure, temperature and planetary oxidation state. Knowledge of the Si content of a planet's core can constrain the conditions of core formation, but in the absence of direct samples from planetary cores, quantifying core Si content is challenging. One relatively new tool to study core formation in terrestrial planets is based on combining measurements of the Si stable isotopic composition of planetary crust and mantle samples with measurements of the Si stable isotope fractionation between metal and silicate at high-temperature and high-pressure conditions. In this study we present the results of a small set of high-pressure, high-temperature (HPT) experiments and combine these with a review of literature data to investigate how the Si isotope fractionation behaviour between metal and silicate varies as a function specifically of experimental run time and temperature. We show that although there is no debate about the sign of fractionation, absolute values for Si isotope fractionation between metal and silicate are difficult to constrain because the experimental database remains incomplete, and because Si isotopic measurements of metals in particular suffer from the absence of a true inter-laboratory comparison. We conclude that in order to derive accurate quantitative estimates of the Si content of the core of the Earth or other planets a wide range of additional experiments will be required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-129
Number of pages17
JournalNetherlands Journal of Geosciences: Geologie en Mijnbouw
Volume95
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

Keywords

  • Core formation
  • HPT experiments
  • metal-silicate systems
  • Si isotope fractionation

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