Low hydrogen contents in the cores of terrestrial planets

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  14 Mar 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 3, e1701876
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701876


Hydrogen has been thought to be an important light element in Earth’s core due to possible siderophile behavior during core-mantle segregation. We reproduced planetary differentiation conditions using hydrogen contents of 450 to 1500 parts per million (ppm) in the silicate phase, pressures of 5 to 20 GPa, oxygen fugacity varying within IW-3.7 and IW-0.2 (0.2 to 3.7 log units lower than iron-wüstite buffer), and Fe alloys typical of planetary cores. We report hydrogen metal-silicate partition coefficients of ~2 × 10−1, up to two orders of magnitude lower than reported previously, and indicative of lithophile behavior. Our results imply H contents of ~60 ppm in the Earth and Martian cores. A simple water budget suggests that 90% of the water initially present in planetary building blocks was lost during planetary accretion. The retained water segregated preferentially into planetary mantles.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances