Volatile element depletion of the Moon—The roles of precursors, post-impact disk dynamics, and core formation

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Science Advances  23 Jan 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 1, eaau7658
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau7658


The compositional and isotopic similarity of Earth’s primitive upper mantle (PUM) and the Moon supports the derivation of the Moon from proto-Earth, but the Moon’s inventory of volatile lithophile elements—Na, K, Rb, and Cs—is lower than Earth’s PUM by factors of 4 to 5. The abundances of 14 other volatile elements exhibit siderophile behavior [volatile siderophile elements (VSEs); i.e., P, As, Cu, Ag, Sb, Ga, Ge, Bi, Pb, Zn, Sn, Cd, In, and Tl] that can be used to evaluate whether the Moon was derived from proto-Earth and if core formation or volatility controlled their depletion. At lunar core formation conditions, As, Sb, Ag, Ge, Bi, and Sn are siderophile, whereas P, Cu, Ga, Pb, Zn, Cd, In, and Tl are weakly siderophile or lithophile. VSEs may help to discriminate between physical and chemical processes that formed the Moon such as low- versus high-energy impacts and gas-melt interactions.

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