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Thermo-chemical Evolution and Global Contraction of Mercury

Grott, M. and Breuer, D. and Laneuville, M. (2011) Thermo-chemical Evolution and Global Contraction of Mercury. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 307 (1-2), pp. 135-146. Elsevier Inc.. DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2011.04.040.

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Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X11002676


The very limited amount of global contraction observed on Mercury's surface poses severe constraints on models of the planet's thermo-chemical evolution and current models rely on a very refractory, Thorium rich composition to slow planetary cooling. However, a refractory composition appears to be incompatible with evidence for pyroclastic eruptions, which require a substantial amount of volatiles to be present in the planetary interior. Furthermore, volcanic activity appears to have been ongoing for a considerable part of the planet's history, while current models predict an early cessation of crustal production. To address these inconsistencies we have reinvestigated the thermo-chemical evolution of Mercury using a non-refractory compositional model, taking the presence of a thermally insulating regolith layer into account. We find that models with a stiff mantle rheology satisfy the observational constraints if the regolith layer is at least 2 km thick. In these models, inefficient mantle convection and thermal insulation significantly slow planetary cooling and prolong the phase of crustal production to 2.5 Gyr after core formation, allowing the volume increase associated with mantle differentiation to offset some of the radial contraction caused by planetary cooling. Models furthermore predict substantial core sulfur contents above 6 wt.%, average crustal thicknesses between 10 and 40 km, and secular cooling rates of 30 K/Gyr.

Document Type:Article
Title:Thermo-chemical Evolution and Global Contraction of Mercury
AuthorsInstitution or Email of Authors
Grott, M.matthias.grott@dlr.de
Breuer, D.doris.breuer@dlr.de
Laneuville, M.Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Saint Maur des Fossés, France
Journal or Publication Title:Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Refereed publication:Yes
In Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 135-146
Publisher:Elsevier Inc.
Keywords:Mercury; Mercury interior; thermal histories; Geophysics
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport (old)
HGF - Program:Space (old)
HGF - Program Themes:W EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research area:Space
DLR - Program:W EW - Erforschung des Weltraums
DLR - Research theme (Project):W - Vorhaben Exploration des Sonnensystems (old)
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research > Planetary Physics
Institute of Planetary Research
Deposited By: Lena Noack
Deposited On:08 Nov 2011 10:52
Last Modified:07 Feb 2013 20:07

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