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Nickel isotopic evidence for late-stage accretion of Mercury-like differentiated planetary embryos

Wang, S-J; Wang, W; Zhu, J-M; Wu, Z; Liu, J; Han, G; Teng, F-Z; ... Li, W; + view all (2021) Nickel isotopic evidence for late-stage accretion of Mercury-like differentiated planetary embryos. Nature Communications , 12 (1) , Article 294. 10.1038/s41467-020-20525-1. Green open access

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Abstract

Earth’s habitability is closely tied to its late-stage accretion, during which impactors delivered the majority of life-essential volatiles. However, the nature of these final building blocks remains poorly constrained. Nickel (Ni) can be a useful tracer in characterizing this accretion as most Ni in the bulk silicate Earth (BSE) comes from the late-stage impactors. Here, we apply Ni stable isotope analysis to a large number of meteorites and terrestrial rocks, and find that the BSE has a lighter Ni isotopic composition compared to chondrites. Using first-principles calculations based on density functional theory, we show that core-mantle differentiation cannot produce the observed light Ni isotopic composition of the BSE. Rather, the sub-chondritic Ni isotopic signature was established during Earth’s late-stage accretion, probably through the Moon-forming giant impact. We propose that a highly reduced sulfide-rich, Mercury-like body, whose mantle is characterized by light Ni isotopic composition, collided with and merged into the proto-Earth during the Moon-forming giant impact, producing the sub-chondritic Ni isotopic signature of the BSE, while delivering sulfur and probably other volatiles to the Earth.

Type: Article
Title: Nickel isotopic evidence for late-stage accretion of Mercury-like differentiated planetary embryos
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-20525-1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20525-1
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Geochemistry, Solid Earth sciences
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Earth Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10121609
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