Chondritic Mg isotope composition of the Earth

Bernard Bourdon, Edward Thomas Tipper, Caroline Fitoussi, Andreas Stracke

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    152 Citations (Scopus)


    The processes of planetary accretion and differentiation have potentially been recorded as variations in the stable isotope ratios of the major elements between planetary objects. However, the magnitude of observed isotopic variations for several elements (Mg, Fe, Si) is at the limit of what current analytical precision and accuracy are able to resolve. Here, we present a comprehensive data set of Mg isotope ratios measured in ocean island and mid-ocean ridge basalts, peridotites and chondrites. The precision and accuracy were verified by isotopic standard addition for two samples, one carbonaceous chondrite (Murchison) and one continental flood basalt (BCR-1). In contrast with some previous studies, our data from terrestrial and chondritic materials have invariant Mg isotope ratios within the uncertainty of the method (0.1 parts per thousand, for the Mg-26/Mg-24 ratio, 2SD). Although isotopic variations of less than about 0.1 parts per thousand. could still be present, the data demonstrate that, at this level of uncertainty, the bulk silicate Earth and chondritic Mg reservoir have a homogeneous delta Mg-26 = 0.23 parts per thousand (Mg-26/Mg-24 ratio of the sample relative to the DSM3 standard set to zero by definition). This implies that neither planetary accretion processes nor partial mantle melting and subsequent shallow-level differentiation have fractionated Mg isotope ratios. These observations imply in particular that the formation of the Earth cannot stem from preferential sorting of chondrite constituents that would have been fractionated in their Mg isotope composition. It also implies that unlike oxygen isotopes, there was no zonation in Mg isotopes in the inner solar system. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5069-5083
    Number of pages15
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Issue number17
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2010


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