Study of meteorites suggests Earth’s composition has been altered by collisional erosion

(ORDO NEWS) — A team of researchers from the University of Clermont-Auvergne and the University of Bayreuth have found evidence that the composition of the Earth changed in its early years as a result of erosion caused by collisions.

The group describes their study of the amount of samarium and neodymium in meteorites and analyzes the processes that led to the Earth’s current composition.

Previous studies have suggested that planets form from collisions of material in accretion disks. Early studies have shown that the Earth has a core of iron and nickel, surrounded by a layer of iron silicate mixed with magnesium.

The top layer is described as a silicate layer. The density of the material decreases from the core to the crust, making it more vulnerable to collisions.

Previously, scientists also determined why the Earth’s crust contains heavier minerals. Scientists have suggested that they were raised up due to incompatibility with other materials.

Unfortunately, these theories do not explain why there are more minerals like neodymium in the Earth’s crust than there should be, based on core composition measurements.

Three main theories have been developed to explain this anomaly. The first theory suggests that this is an illusion, and there are actually more of them in the core than can be measured.

The second theory suggests that this is due to the fact that the material from the accretion disk had differences in composition.

A third suggests that as heavier materials were pushed upwards and accumulated in the Earth’s crust, some of them were ejected into space during new collisions.

In this new work, the researchers found evidence for a third theory. They measured the amount of neodymium in meteorites, suggesting that they are similar in composition to Earth’s building blocks.

The scientists concluded that up to 20% of the Earth’s outer layers could have been removed due to collisions, which could explain the ratio of heavier minerals like neodymium to lighter minerals like samarium in the Earth’s crust.


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