Heating experiments relevant to the depletion of Na, K and Mn in the Earth and other planetary bodies

Geochemistr< (Chemie der Erde)  (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemer.2019.125540]
1Institut für Geowissenschaften, Universität Kiel, Germany
2Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum Senckenberg, Frankfurt / Main, Germany
Copyright Elsevier

We have studied the evaporation of Na, K and Mn from Al-Na-K- and Mn-rich silicate at various conditions. Total alkali oxide contents ranged from 5 to 20%. The evaporation rate of Na increases with temperature and decreasing oxygen fugacity and decreases with duration of heating. The loss of K is in all cases less pronounced than for Na. Heating in an evacuated vacuum furnace is more effective in removing Na and K from melt droplets than in furnaces with one atm gas flow of air or gas mixtures controlling the oxygen fugacity. The strong pumping required to keep the vacuum removes Na and K atoms very effectively. In all experiments, the rate of evaporation is determined by quasi-equilibrium between a thin layer of Na and K rich gas above the molten silicates. The results of the experiments are in agreement with several other studies.

In experiments with more than one sample in the furnace, equilibration of Na- and K-rich samples with Na- and K-poor samples occurred rapidly, mediated by the ambient gas phase.

The results of experiments with Mn in starting compositions showed much stronger losses of Na than Mn under a variety of conditions.

Thus the nearly chondritic Mn/Na ratios in the Earth cannot be the result of evaporation of Na and Mn in Earth-making materials, as the Mn/Na ratios in evaporation residues would be much higher than chondritic ratios. Such evaporation processes may have occurred in the parent material of Moon, Vesta and Mars.

The data suggest, in agreement with earlier hypotheses, that the high and variable contents of Na and K in chondrules require a gas phase high in Na and K equilibrating with chondrule melts. The volume of nebular gas parental to a certain type of chondrites was heated and Na and K were lost from the chondrule precursors to the gas phase. Subsequently the nebular parcel was compressed leading to higher partial pressures of Na and K. Flash heating then produced chondrule melts which incorporated some of the gaseous Na and K and then cooled rapidly. The large range of Na and K contents in chondrule melts reflects very local enrichments of Na and K in the gas phase. Despite these variations bulk chondritic meteorites have well defined bulk Na and K contents, implying a closed system during formation of chondrule and matrix.


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