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Olivine Insights Reveal Moon's Interior Secrets
Olivine Insights Reveal Moon's Interior Secrets
by Riko Seibo
Tokyo, Japan (SPX) Jun 06, 2024

Olivine is the earliest mineral to crystallize from basaltic magma. Accurate knowledge of olivine/melt partition coefficients (DOl-melt) for first-transition row elements (FTREs) Ga and Ge is crucial in modeling petrogenetic processes in planetary basalts.

Many studies have focused on this topic, often concentrating on minor elements in olivine. These experiments usually mimic Earth's mantle conditions.

For understanding basalt formation on other rocky bodies, including the Moon, Mars, and asteroids, oxygen fugacities during basalt formation vary from 2 log units below the iron-wustite buffer (IW-2) to IW+6. Lunar basalts are generally iron-rich compared to Earth's.

Dr. Jiejun Jing, a JSPS postdoctoral fellow at Ehime University, conducted high-temperature experiments (around IW-2 to IW+5.5) at 1 atm using a gas-mixing furnace. This was done with colleagues from Ehime University and universities in the Netherlands, China, and Germany.

The results indicate most DOl-melt values are insensitive to bulk system iron contents. However, DOl-meltCr is significantly higher in these experiments compared to DOl-meltCr from lunar samples with higher FeO content. DOl-meltNi values remain constant at oxygen fugacities above the IW buffer but drop sharply when the system is iron metal saturated (below the IW buffer).

Using these new partition coefficients, the authors reassessed lunar basalt generation. They concluded that the Cr-rich nature of olivines in lunar basalts compared to terrestrial basalts is due to the Cr-rich cumulate mantle source. This links to the early crystallization of Cr-poor minerals like olivine and orthopyroxene in the lunar magma ocean, resulting in shallow Cr-rich cumulates.

Additionally, higher Co/Ni ratios in olivine in high-titanium lunar basalts compared to low-titanium lunar basalts suggest the former formed under more reduced conditions in the lunar mantle (below the IW buffer, metal-saturated).

Research Report:Experimental investigation of first-row transition elements partitioning between olivine and silicate melt: Implications for lunar basalt formation

Related Links
Ehime University
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
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