Composition of the Earth

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Science  20 Jan 1989:
Vol. 243, Issue 4889, pp. 367-370
DOI: 10.1126/science.243.4889.367


New estimates of solar composition, compared to earlier measurements, are enriched in Fe and Ca relative to Mg, Al, and Si. The Fe/Si and Ca/Al atomic ratios are 30 to 40 percent higher than chondritic values. These changes necessitate a revision in the cosmic abundances and in the composition of the nebula from which the planets accreted (which have been based on chondritic values). These new values imply that the mantle could contain about 15 weight percent FeO and more CaMgSi2O6 than has been supposed. Geophysical data are consistent with a dense, FeO-rich lower mantle and a CaMgSi2O6 (diopside)-rich transition region. FeO contents of 13 to 18 weight percent appear to be typical of the mantles of bodies in the inner solar system. The oldest komatiites (high-temperature MgO-rich magmas) have a similar chemistry to the derived mantle. These results favor a chemically zoned mantle.

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