Journal article

Partitioning of Si and platinum group elements between liquid and solid Fe-Si alloys

Crystallization of the Earth's inner core fractionates major and minor elements between the solid and liquid metal, leaving physical and geochemical imprints on the Earth's core. For example, the density jump observed at the Inner Core Boundary (ICB) is related to the preferential partitioning of lighter elements in the liquid outer core. The fractionation of Os, Re and Pt between liquid and solid during inner core crystallization has been invoked as a process that explains the observed Os isotopic signature of mantle plume-derived lavas (Brandon et al., 1998; Brandon and Walker, 2005) in terms of core-mantle interaction. In this article we measured partitioning of Si, Os, Re and Pt between liquid and solid metal. Isobaric (2 GPa) experiments were conducted in a piston-cylinder press at temperatures between 1250 degrees C and 1600 degrees C in which an imposed thermal gradient through the sample provided solid-liquid coexistence in the Fe-Si system. We determined the narrow melting loop in the Fe-Si system using Si partitioning values and showed that order-disorder transition in the Fe-Si solid phases can have a large effect on Si partitioning. We also found constant partition coefficients (D-Os, D-Pt, D-Re) between liquid and solid metal, for Si concentrations ranging from 2 to 12 wt%. The compact structure of Fe-Si liquid alloys is compatible with incorporation of Si and platinum group elements (PGEs) elements precluding solid-liquid fractionation. Such phase diagram properties are relevant for other light elements such as S and C at high pressure and is not consistent with inter-elemental fractionation of PGEs during metal crystallization at Earth's inner core conditions. We therefore propose that the peculiar Os isotopic signature observed in plume-derived lavas is more likely explained by mantle source heterogeneity (Meibom et al., 2002; Baker and Krogh Jensen, 2004; Luguet et al., 2008). (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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