In-situ X-ray diffraction and radiography of iron–silicate–water–sulfur system simulating behaviors of light elements during early Earth’s core–mantle segregation
The Earth’s iron-rich core contains light elements. Studying the interaction of multiple light elements with iron and silicates during core–mantle segregation process in early Earth evolution has become important. In-situ X-ray diffraction and imaging observations of the iron–silicate–water–sulfur system at 5–10 GPa, up to approximately 1900°C, were used to elucidate sequential reactions: phase transformation and hydrogenation of iron, and formation of iron sulfide and silicates. The newly constructed X-ray imaging system achieved spatial resolution of approx. 10 μm for this study to show iron blob formation and motion. Sulfur distorted the iron blob shape and affected blob growth during heating by reducing the interfacial energy between molten iron and silicates. Light elements in the molten iron and the remaining silicate grains affected core–mantle segregation in the primitive Earth as temperatures increased. Carbon and silicon were incorporated into liquid Fe during later processes at higher temperatures.