Rubidium isotopes in primitive chondrites: Constraints on Earth's volatile element depletion and lead isotope evolution




Nebel, Oliver
Mezger, K.
van Westrenen, Wim

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The bulk silicate Earth (BSE) shows substantial deficits in volatile elements compared to CI-chondrites and solar abundances. These deficits could be caused by pre-accretionary depletion in the solar nebula during condensation of solids, or by later heat-driven evaporation during collision of small bodies that later accreted to form the Earth. The latter is considered to result in isotope fractionation for elements with low condensation temperatures that correlates with the degree of depletion. Here, we report first high-precision isotope ratio measurements of the moderately volatile and lithophile trace element Rb. Data from seventeen chondrite meteorites show that their Rb isotope abundances are nearly indistinguishable from Earth, not deviating more than 1 per mil in their87Rb/85Rb. The almost uniform solar system Rb isotope pool suggests incomplete condensation or evaporation in a single stage is unlikely to be the cause of the volatile element deficit of the Earth. As Rb and Pb have similar condensation temperatures, we use their different degrees of depletion in the BSE to address the mechanisms and timing of terrestrial volatile depletion. The Rb isotope data are consistent with a scenario in which the volatile budget of the Earth was generated by a mixture of a highly volatile-element depleted early Proto-Earth with undepleted material in the course of terrestrial accretion. Observed Pb and Rb abundances and U-Pb and Rb-Sr isotope systematics suggest that volatile addition occurred at approximately the same time at which last core-mantle equilibration was achieved. In line with previous suggestions, this last equilibration involved a second stage of Pb (but not Rb) depletion from the BSE. The timing of this second Pb loss event can be constrained to ~110Ma after the start of the solar system. This model supports a scenario with core storage of Pb in the aftermath of a putative Moon forming giant impact that also delivered the bulk of the volatile elements to the Earth.



Keywords: Bulk silicate earth; Chondrite meteorites; Condensation temperature; Core formation; Core-mantle; Heat-driven; High-precision; In-line; Isotope abundance; Isotope data; Isotope fractionation; Isotope-ratio measurements; Lead isotope; Moon-forming giant im Core formation; Meteorites; Pb isotope evolution; Rubidium isotopes; Volatile depletion



Earth and Planetary Science Letters


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