Articles

Core Formation During Early Accretion of the Earth

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Science  17 May 1991:
Vol. 252, Issue 5008, pp. 926-933
DOI: 10.1126/science.252.5008.926

Abstract

Recent studies are leading to a better understanding of the formation of the earth's metal core. This new information includes: better knowledge of the physics of metal segregation, improved geochemical data on the abundance of siderophile and chalcophile elements in the silicate part of the earth, and experimental data on the partitioning behavior of siderophile and chalcophile elements. Extensive melting of the earth as a result of giant impacts, accretion, or the presence of a dense blanketing atmosphere is thought to have led to the formation of the core. Collision between a planet-sized body and the earth may have also produced the moon. Near the end of accretion, core formation evidently ceased as upper mantle conditions became oxidizing. The accumulation of the oceans is a consequence of the change to oxidizing conditions.