A geophysical perspective on the bulk composition of Mars

1A. Khan,2C. Liebske,1A. Rozel,3A. Rivoldini,4F. Nimmo,2J. A. D. Connolly,5A.-C. Plesa,1D. Giardini
Journal of Geophysical Research, Planets (in Press) Link to Article [DOI: 10.1002/2017JE005371]
1Institute of Geophysics, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
2Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
3Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium
4Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, UC Santa Cruz, California, USA
5German Aerospace Center (DLR), Berlin, Germany
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

We invert the Martian tidal response and mean mass and moment of inertia for chemical composition, thermal state, and interior structure. The inversion combines phase equilibrium computations with a laboratory-based viscoelastic dissipation model. The rheological model, which is based on measurements of anhydrous and melt-free olivine, is both temperature and grain size sensitive and imposes strong constraints on interior structure. The bottom of the lithosphere, defined as the location where the conductive geotherm meets the mantle adiabat, occurs deep within the upper mantle (∼250–500 km depth) resulting in apparent upper mantle low-velocity zones. Assuming an Fe-FeS core, our results indicate: 1) a Mantle with a Mg# (molar Mg/Mg+Fe) of ∼0.75 in agreement with earlier geochemical estimates based on analysis of Martian meteorites; 2) absence of bridgmanite- and ferropericlase-dominated basal layer; 3) core compositions (13.5–16 wt% S), core radii (1640–1740 km), and core-mantle-boundary temperatures (1560–1660 ∘ C) that, together with the eutectic-like core compositions, suggest the core is liquid; and 4) bulk Martian compositions that are overall chondritic with a Fe/Si (wt ratio) of 1.63–1.68. We show that the inversion results can be used in tandem with geodynamic simulations to identify plausible geodynamic scenarios and parameters. Specifically, we find that the inversion results are reproduced by stagnant lid convection models for a range of initial viscosities (∼1019–1020 Pa·s) and radioactive element partitioning between crust and mantle around 0.001. The geodynamic models predict a mean surface heat flow between 15–25 mW/m2.


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