We have conducted petrologic modeling of MESSENGER-derived compositions and analog compositions to gain a better understanding of the petrogenesis of the crust of Mercury. Analog compositions included a 1425°C partial melt of the Indarch (EH4) meteorite and a range of Mg-rich terrestrial rocks (magnesian basalt, basaltic komatiite, and peridotitic komatiite). All models were held at the iron-wüstite buffer to simulate the reducing conditions that likely existed during Mercury's formation. We then compared modeled mineral compositions and abundances, liquidus temperatures, and viscosities to better constrain the characteristics of the lavas that erupted on Mercury's surface. Our results show that the surface composition of Mercury is most similar to that of a terrestrial magnesian basalt (with lowered FeO), composed mainly of Mg-rich orthopyroxene and plagioclase. Because the model magmas are Mg-rich, their counterparts on Mercury would have erupted at high temperatures and displayed low viscosities. Producing melts of these compositions would have required high temperatures at the mantle source regions on Mercury. The inferred low-viscosity lavas would have erupted as thin, laterally extensive flows (depending upon their effusion rate) and would be expected to display surficial flow features that might be preserved to the present.
Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets)
- Pub Date:
- December 2012
- Geochemistry: Composition of the planets;
- Geochemistry: Magma genesis and partial melting (3619);
- Geochemistry: Mantle processes (3621);
- Geochemistry: Planetary geochemistry (5405;