A compositionally heterogeneous martian mantle due to late accretion

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Science Advances  12 Feb 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 7, eaay2338
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay2338


The approximately chondritic estimated relative abundances of highly siderophile elements (HSE) in the bulk martian mantle suggest that these elements were added after Mars’ core formed. The shergottite-nakhlite-chassigny (SNC) meteorites imply an average mantle Pt abundance of ≈3 to 5 parts per billion, which requires the addition of 1.6 × 1021 kilograms of chondritic material, or 0.25% martian masses, to the silicate Mars. Here, we present smoothed particle hydro-dynamics impact simulations that show that Mars’ HSE abundances imply one to three late collisions by large differentiated projectiles. We show that these collisions would produce a compositionally heterogeneous martian mantle. Based mainly on W isotopes, it has been argued that Mars grew rapidly in only about 2 to 4 million years (Ma). However, we find that impact generation of mantle domains with variably fractionated Hf/W and diverse 182W could imply a Mars formation time scale up to 15 Ma.

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