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    Comment on: “Investigating Earth’s Formation History Through Copper & Sulfur Metal–Silicate Partitioning During Core-Mantle Differentiation” by Mahan et al. (2018)

    Jennings, Eleanor S. and Wade, J. and Llovet, X. (2019) Comment on: “Investigating Earth’s Formation History Through Copper & Sulfur Metal–Silicate Partitioning During Core-Mantle Differentiation” by Mahan et al. (2018). Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 124 (12), pp. 12837-12844. ISSN 0148-0227.

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    The physical and chemical conditions of terrestrial core formation play a key role in the distribution of elements between the Earth’s silicate mantle and metallic core. To explore this, Mahan et al. (2018a) present experimentally-derived partitioning data, showing how Cu distributes itself between metal and silicate at lower-mantle PT conditions with implications for planetary accretion and core formation. Eight experiments were performed in a diamond anvil cell (DAC) and each sample was welded to a copper grid for analysis. An offset in partitioning behaviour was subsequently noted between the high-P experiments and the lower-P dataset. However, when analysing the DAC experiments by electron probe microanalysis, the authors did not account for the secondary fluorescence of Cu that arises from the sample holder. Using Monte Carlo simulations of X-ray and electron transport, we show that the fluorescence of the Cu grid, originating from high energy continuum X-rays emitted from the sample, makes a significant contribution to the reported measurement of Cu in both the silicate and metallic phases. This is in good agreement with previous measurements made on Cu-free analogues. On average, around 70% of the published Cu concentrations are attributable to X-rays that originate externally to the sample. The reported offset in KDmet-sil at high pressures may reflect the different experimental and analytical protocol used, rather than a true pressure effect. Although adequate post-hoc corrections can be made, uncertainties around the exact sample and detector geometries make it difficult to refine simulations and derive accurate correction factors for each experiment.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: Accepted for publication. Copyright American Geophysical Union. Further reproduction or electronic distribution is not permitted.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): DAC, EPMA, Fluorescence, Partitioning, Accretion, Copper
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Natural Sciences
    Depositing User: Eleanor Jennings
    Date Deposited: 04 Nov 2019 14:44
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:55


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