Geodynamical Implications of Late Accretion

The overarching goal of project area C is to obtain a quantitative understanding of the interplay between impact and magma ocean processes during the late stages of terrestrial planet accretion, by determining how impacts contributed to magma ocean formation and their subsequent evolution, and how magma ocean processes affected the distribution of late-accreted materials and the resulting composition of planetary mantles.


The long-term goal of project area C is to reconstruct the geodynamic evolution of the Earth and Moon during the late accretion phase, by combined laboratory experiments and the chemical and isotopic analyses of lunar and terrestrial samples with numerical modeling of dynamic processes, such as impacts, mantle convection and differentiation, and mantle degassing and atmosphere evolution. In the first funding period, the focus was on the development of the appropriate numerical codes, and first results show that we will be able to achieve the overall goal of coupling models from different disciplines (geodynamic, petrological, and atmosphere models) and of combining expertise in isotope cosmochemistry, geodynamic modelling and mantle geochemistry. 

Major research questions and objectives

  1. How were siderophile volatile elements redistributed between core-forming melts and mantle minerals, and how did this affect the composition of the mantles of Earth and Mars? (subproject C1)
  2. How was impactor material accreted, incorporated, and mixed into the terrestrial planets, and how does this depend on their thermal evolution? (subprojects C2, C3, C4)
  3. How did giant impacts contribute to the formation of magma oceans and their subsequent evolution? (subprojects C2, C4)
  4. How did magma ocean crystallization affect dynamic processes within the Earth’s and lunar interior? (subprojects C1, C3, C4, C6)
  5. How were atmosphere and crust formation processes coupled during the early evolution of Earth and Mars? (subprojects C2, C5, C6)