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Deep magma ocean formation set the oxidation state of Earth’s mantle

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Science  30 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6456, pp. 903-906
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax8376

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Deep divide in fate of iron

A large component of Earth's atmosphere comes from the interior, where the gas species are dictated by the redox state of the mantle. After formation of Earth's iron core, the mantle became several orders of magnitude more oxidized. Armstrong et al. conducted a set of experiments looking at the redox state of silicate melt representative of Earth's early magma oceans. They found that at some depth, iron oxide disproportionates into iron(III) oxide and metallic iron. The reduced iron sinks to the core, leaving an oxidized rocky mantle that emits carbon dioxide and water instead of more reduced species.

Science, this issue p. 903

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