Publications

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2012
Day, JMD, Walker RJ, Qin LP, Rumble D.  2012.  Late accretion as a natural consequence of planetary growth. Nature Geoscience. 5:614-617.   10.1038/ngeo1527   AbstractWebsite

Core formation should strip highly siderophile elements (HSEs) from planetary mantles according to the expected metal-silicate partitioncoefficients(1,2). However, studies of Earth(3), the Moon(4) and Mars(5) indicate mantles with HSE abundances in chondrite-relative proportions that exceed the values expected from metal-silicate partitioning. Competing hypotheses have been proposed to account for these observations, including metal-silicate partitioning at higher pressures and temperatures(6) and late accretion(7). Here we present petrological and geochemical analyses of diogenite meteorites that represent mantle and crustal materials from two or more differentiated asteroids. We find that diogenites show HSE abundances that are consistent with metal-silicate equilibration, followed by minor continued accretion. Isotope chronometry supports diogenite crystallization ages within 2-3 million years of Solar System formation, indicating that late accretion occurred earlier than postulated for Earth, the Moon and Mars. The early timing and occurrence on differentiated asteroids, as well as on the larger terrestrial planets, therefore ties late accretion to planetary growth. On asteroidal bodies, such as the diogenite parent bodies, variations in HSE compositions may reflect regional rather than global effects. In contrast, for Earth, the Moon and Mars, compositional variations in mantle materials seem to be consistent with more homogeneous distributions through prolonged melting and/or solid-state convection.

2010
Bottke, WF, Walker RJ, Day JMD, Nesvorny D, Elkins-Tanton L.  2010.  Stochastic Late Accretion to Earth, the Moon, and Mars. Science. 330:1527-1530.   10.1126/science.1196874   AbstractWebsite

Core formation should have stripped the terrestrial, lunar, and martian mantles of highly siderophile elements (HSEs). Instead, each world has disparate, yet elevated HSE abundances. Late accretion may offer a solution, provided that >= 0.5% Earth masses of broadly chondritic planetesimals reach Earth's mantle and that similar to 10 and similar to 1200 times less mass goes to Mars and the Moon, respectively. We show that leftover planetesimal populations dominated by massive projectiles can explain these additions, with our inferred size distribution matching those derived from the inner asteroid belt, ancient martian impact basins, and planetary accretion models. The largest late terrestrial impactors, at 2500 to 3000 kilometers in diameter, potentially modified Earth's obliquity by similar to 10 degrees, whereas those for the Moon, at similar to 250 to 300 kilometers, may have delivered water to its mantle.

2007
Day, JMD, Pearson DG, Taylor LA.  2007.  Highly siderophile element constraints on accretion and differentiation of the Earth-Moon system. Science. 315:217-219.   10.1126/science.1133355   AbstractWebsite

A new combined rhenium-osmium- and platinum-group element data set for basalts from the Moon establishes that the basalts have uniformly low abundances of highly siderophile elements. The data set indicates a lunar mantle with long-term, chondritic, highly siderophile element ratios, but with absolute abundances that are over 20 times lower than those in Earth's mantle. The results are consistent with silicate-metal equilibrium during a giant impact and core formation in both bodies, followed by post-core-formation late accretion that replenished their mantles with highly siderophile elements. The lunar mantle experienced late accretion that was similar in composition to that of Earth but volumetrically less than (similar to 0.02% lunar mass) and terminated earlier than for Earth.

Spicuzza, MJ, Day JMD, Taylor LA, Valley JW.  2007.  Oxygen isotope constraints on the origin and differentiation of the Moon. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 253:254-265.   10.1016/j.epsl.2006.10.030   AbstractWebsite

We report new high-precision laser fluorination three-isotope oxygen data for lunar materials. Terrestrial silicates with a range of delta O-18 values (-0.5 to 22.9 parts per thousand) were analyzed to independently determine the slope of the terrestrial fractionation line (TFL; lambda = 0.5259 +/- 0.0008; 95% confidence level). This new TFL determination allows direct comparison of lunar oxygen isotope systematics with those of Earth. Values of Delta O-17 for Apollo 12, 15, and 17 basalts and Luna 24 soil samples average 0.01 parts per thousand and are indistinguishable from the TFL. The delta O-18 values of high- and low-Ti lunar basalts are distinct. Average whole-rock delta O-18 values for low-Ti lunar basalts from the Apollo 12 (5.72 +/- 0.06 parts per thousand) and Apollo 15 landing sites (5.65 +/- 0.12 parts per thousand) are identical within error and are markedly higher than Apollo 17 high-Ti basalts (5.46 +/- 0.11 parts per thousand). Evolved low-Ti LaPaz mare-basalt meteorite delta O-18 values (5.67 +/- 0.05 parts per thousand) are in close agreement with more primitive low-Ti Apollo 12 and 15 mare basalts. Modeling of lunar mare-basalt source composition indicates that the high- and low-Ti mare-basalt mantle reservoirs were in oxygen isotope equilibrium and that variations in delta O-18 do not result from fractional crystallization. Instead, these differences are consistent with mineralogically heterogeneous mantle sources for mare basalts, and with lunar magma ocean differentiation models that result in a thick feldspathic crust, an olivine-pyroxene-rich mantle, and late-stage ilmenite-rich zones that were convectively mixed into deeper portions of the lunar mantle. Higher average delta O-18 (WR) values of low-Ti basalts compared to terrestrial mid ocean ridge basalts (Delta=0.18 parts per thousand) suggest a possible oxygen isotopic difference between the terrestrial and lunar mantles. However, calculations of the delta O-18 of lunar mantle olivine in this study are only 0.05 parts per thousand higher than terrestrial mantle olivine. These observations may have important implications for understanding the formation of the Earth-Moon system. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

2005
Day, JMD, Hilton DR, Pearson DG, Macpherson CG, Kjarsgaard BA, Janney PE.  2005.  Absence of a high time-integrated He-3/(U+Th) source in the mantle beneath continents. Geology. 33:733-736.   10.1130/g21625.1   AbstractWebsite

Volcanic rocks from ocean island and continental flood basalt provinces can exhibit He-3/He-4 ratios greatly in excess of those of mid-oceanic-ridge basalts (MORB). High He-3/He-4 ratios must indicate derivation from a mantle source with high time-integrated He-3/(U+Th) relative to depleted MORB-source mantle. The location of the high He-3/He-4 mantle reservoir is a poorly resolved but important issue because of the constraints it places upon the structure and convective style of Earth's mantle. It has been proposed that the high He-3/He-4 reservoir resides in the upper mantle, rather than the lower mantle, because Earth should be volatile poor and highly differentiated, with incompatible elements (such as He) concentrated in the upper mantle and crust. This hypothesis can be tested using continental intraplate alkaline volcanics (CIAV) that are generated at or near the boundary between the conducting lithospheric and convecting asthenospheric mantle. Olivine and clinopyroxene phenocrysts from Cretaceous to Miocene CIAV from Canada, South Africa, and Uganda have He-3/He-4 ratios more radiogenic than MORB, strongly arguing against a widespread high He-3/He-4 source in the continental lithosphere or the underlying convecting upper mantle. Combined with a global data set of CIAV and continental lithosphere mantle xenoliths, these results provide no evidence for high He-3/He-4 in any samples known to originate from this environment. Therefore, volcanic rocks with He-3/He-4 greater than MORB He-3/He-4 are likely to sample a mantle source with high time-integrated He-3/(U+Th) that cannot exist within or below the continents. This reservoir is also unlikely to exist within the upper mantle as defined by the He-3/He-4 distribution in MORB.

Macpherson, CG, Hilton DR, Day JMD, Lowry D, Gronvold K.  2005.  High-He-3/He-4, depleted mantle and low-delta O-18, recycled oceanic lithosphere in the source of central Iceland magmatism. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 233:411-427.   10.1016/j.epsl.2005.02.037   AbstractWebsite

New helium and oxygen isotope data and trace element concentrations are reported for volcanic rocks from central Iceland. Basalts that are depleted in the most incompatible trace elements possess a wide range in He-3/He-4 but most ratios are similar to or higher than those of mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB:similar to 8R(A)[1] [D.W. Graham, Noble gas geochemistry of mid-ocean ridge and ocean island basalts: characterisation of mantle source reservoirs, in: D.P. Porcelli, C.J. Ballentine, R. Wieler (Eds.), Noble gases in Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry, Rev. Mineral. Geochem., vol. 47, 2002, pp. 247-317]). The low concentrations of helium in these rocks suggest that significant degassing has made them susceptible to contamination by low-He-3/He-4 crust, therefore all measured He-3/He-4 are considered minimum estimates for their sources. Elevated helium isotope ratios in the source of these rocks result from interaction with high-He-3/He-4 mantle. The highest oxygen isotope ratios in the depleted rocks are similar to those in melts from typical depleted upper mantle and the range of delta(18)O values is consistent with variable, limited amounts of contamination by Icelandic crust. Most of the incompatible trace element-enriched rocks possess He-3/He-4 ratios that are similar to or lower than those in MORB. These rocks were erupted close to the postulated centre of the Iceland plume. This observation contradicts models in which high-He-3/He-4 characterises the focus of mantle upwelling. A source with MORB-like He-3/He-4 ratios may also be common to other parts of the North Atlantic Igneous Province. The highest delta(18)O values in the enriched rocks are lower than those in MORB and do not appear to have been affected by interaction with low-delta(18)O Icelandic crust. Recycling of hydrothermally altered oceanic crust that has been subducted into the mantle provides a plausible mechanism for generating an O-18-poor source with the trace element and isotopic characteristics of the enriched lavas. (C) 2005 Elsevier B.V All rights reserved.