Highly siderophile element and 182W evidence for a partial late veneer in the source of 3.8 Ga rocks from Isua, Greenland

1Christopher W. Dale, 2Thomas S. Kruijer, 1Kevin W. Burton
Earth and Planetary Science Letters (in Press) Link to Article [http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2016.11.001]
1Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK
2Institut für Planetologie, University of Münster, Wilhelm-Klemm-Str. 10, 48149 Münster, Germany
Copyright Elsevier

The higher-than-expected concentrations of highly siderophile elements (HSE) in Earth’s mantle most likely indicate that Earth received a small amount of late accreted mass after core formation had ceased, known as the ‘late veneer’. Small 182W excesses in the Moon and in some Archaean rocks – such as the source of 3.8 billion-year-old Isua magmatics – also appear consistent with the late veneer hypothesis, with a lower proportion received. However, 182W anomalies can also relate to other processes, including early mantle differentiation. To better assess the origin of these W isotope anomalies – and specifically whether they relate to the late veneer – we have determined the HSE abundances and 182W compositions of a suite of mafic to ultramafic rocks from Isua, from which we estimate HSE abundances in the source mantle and ultimately constrain the 182W composition of the pre-late veneer mantle.

Our data suggest that the Isua source mantle had HSE abundances at around 50–65% of the present-day mantle, consistent with partial, but not complete, isolation from the late veneer. These data also indicate that at least part of the late veneer had been added and mixed into the mantle at the time the Isua source formed, prior to 3.8 Ga. For the same Isua samples we obtained a 13±4 ppm13±4 ppm182W excess, compared to the modern terrestrial mantle, in excellent agreement with previous data. Using combined 182W and HSE data we show that the Moon, Isua, and the present-day bulk silicate Earth (BSE) produce a well-defined co-variation between 182W composition and the mass fraction of late-accreted mass, as inferred from HSE abundances. This co-variation is consistent with the calculated effects of various late accretion compositions on the HSE and 182W signatures of Earth’s mantle. The empirical relationship, therefore, implies that the Moon, Isua source and BSE received increasing proportions of late-accreted mass, supporting the idea of disproportional late accretion to the Earth and Moon, and consistent with the interpretation that the lunar 182W value of 27±4 ppm27±4 ppm represents the composition of Earth’s mantle before the late veneer was added. In this case, the Isua source can represent ambient mantle after the giant moon-forming impact, into which only a part of Earth’s full late veneer was mixed, rather than an isotopically distinct mantle domain produced by early differentiation, which would probably require survival through the giant Moon-forming impact.

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