Solubility and partitioning of noble gases in anorthite, diopside, forsterite, spinel, and synthetic basaltic melts: Implications for the origin and evolution of terrestrial planet atmospheres.
AuthorBroadhurst, Catherine Leigh.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe noble gas abundances and isotopic ratios of the terrestrial planets differ from each other and from the average of chondritic meteorites. These different abundance patterns result from primordial heterogeneities or different degassing histories. Magmatic transport is the only degassing mechanism that can be demonstrated to occur on Venus, Earth, and Mars, and is presently the dominant form of volatile transport to a planet's free surface. An alternative technique was developed to determine the partitioning and solubility of noble gases in mineral/melt systems. Natural end member minerals and synthetic melts known to be in equilibrium were held in separate crucibles in a one bar flowing noble gas atmosphere. Experiments were run 7-18 days at 1300 or 1332°C, in 99.95% Ar or a Ne-Ar-Kr-Xe mix. Gas concentrations were measured by mass spectrometry. The solubility of noble gases in minerals was surprisingly high, and individual samples of a particular mineral composition are distinct in their behavior. The data is consistent with lattice vacancy defect siting. Noble gas solubility in the minerals increases with increasing atomic number; this may be related to polarizability. Noble gas solubilities in melts decrease with increasing atomic number. Solubility is directly proportional to melt molar volume; values overlap the lower end of the range defined for natural basalts. The lower solubilities are related to the higher MgO and CaO concentrations and lower degree of polymerization and Fe³⁺ concentration in synthetic vs. natural melts. Partition coefficient patterns show a clear trend of increasing compatibility with increasing noble gas atomic number, but many individual values are > 1. Calculations show that the terrestrial planet atmospheres cannot have formed from partial melting of a common chondritic source. When results are examined with isotopic constraints and MOR and hot-spot activities, there is no compelling evidence that the Earth is substantially outgassed of its primordial or even its radiogenic volatiles. If volcanic degassing was mostly responsible for the atmospheres, then initial volatile abundances were Mars < Earth < Venus. Alternatively, roughly equal abundances could have been modified by catastrophic processes.