Source and maintenance of the argon atmospheres of Mercury and the Moon
AuthorKillen, R. M.
MetadataShow full item record
CitationKillen, R. M. (2002). Source and maintenance of the argon atmospheres of Mercury and the Moon. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 37(9), 1223-1231.
PublisherThe Meteoritical Society
JournalMeteoritics & Planetary Science
AbstractWe propose that argon-40 measured in the lunar atmosphere and that in Mercury's atmosphere is due to current diffusion into connected pore space within the crust. Higher temperatures at Mercury, along with more rapid loss from the atmosphere, will lead to a similar or smaller column abundance of argon at Mercury than at the Moon, given teh same crustal abundance of potassium. Because the noble gas abundance in the mercurian atmosphere represents current effusion, it is a direct measure of the crustal potassium abundance. We assume a fractal distribution of distance to a connected pore space, with the shortest distance increasing with depth. Given this "rock size" distribution, we show that the diffusive flux is not a unique function of temperature. Even though the diffusion coefficient is an exponential function of temperature, the flux to teh surface is fairly insensitive to the temperature.