Magma ocean fractional crystallization and cumulate overturn in terrestrial planets

Implications for Mars

Linda Elkins-Tanton, E. M. Parmentier, P. C. Hess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

159 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Crystallization of a magma ocean on a large terrestrial planet that is significantly melted by the energy of accretion may lead to an unstable cumulate density stratification, which may overturn to a stable configuration. Overturn of the initially unstable stratification may produce an early basaltic crust and differentiated mantle reservoirs. Such a stable compositional stratification can have important implications for the planet's subsequent evolution by delaying or suppressing thermal convection and by influencing the distribution of radiogenic heat sources. We use simple models for fractional crystallization of a martian magma ocean, and calculate the densities of the resulting cumulates. While the simple models presented do not include all relevant physical processes, they are able to describe to first order a number of aspects of martian evolution. The models describe the creation of magma source regions that differentiated early in the history of Mars, and present the possibility of an early, brief magnetic field initiated by cold overturned cumulates falling to the core-mantle boundary. In a model that includes the density inversion at about 7.5 GPa, where olivine and pyroxene float in the remaining magma ocean liquids while garnet sinks, cumulate overturn sequesters alumina in the deep martian interior. The ages and compositions of source regions are consistent with SNC meteorite data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1753-1771
Number of pages19
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Volume38
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes

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overturn
terrestrial planets
cumulate
fractional crystallization
mars
magma
Mars
oceans
planet
stratification
crystallization
ocean
SNC meteorite
SNC meteorites
core-mantle boundary
thermal convection
floats
heat source
heat sources
sinks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics

Cite this

Magma ocean fractional crystallization and cumulate overturn in terrestrial planets : Implications for Mars. / Elkins-Tanton, Linda; Parmentier, E. M.; Hess, P. C.

In: Meteoritics and Planetary Science, Vol. 38, No. 12, 12.2003, p. 1753-1771.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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