H, not O or pressure, causes eutectic T depression in the Fe-FeS System to 8 GPa

Buono, Antonio S.; Walker, David

The Fe-FeS system maintains a eutectic temperature of 990 ± 10 °C to at least 8 GPa if starting materials and pressure media are rigorously dehydrated. Literature reports of pressure-induced freezing point depression of the eutectic for the Fe-FeS system are not confirmed. Modest addition of oxygen alone is confirmed to cause negligible freezing point depression at 6 GPa. Addition of H alone causes a progressive decrease in the eutectic temperature with P in the Fe-FeS-H system to below 965 °C at 6 GPa to below 950 °C at 8 GPa. It is our hypothesis that moisture contamination in unrigorously dried experiments may be an H source for freezing point depression. O released from H₂O disproportionation reacts with Fe and is sequestered as ferropericlase along the sample capsules walls, leaving the H to escape the system and/or enter the Fe-FeS mixture. The observed occurrence of ferropericlase on undried MgO capsule margins is otherwise difficult to explain, because an alternate source for the oxygen in the ferropericlase layer is difficult to identify. This study questions the use of pressure-depressed Fe-S eutectic temperatures and suggests that the lower eutectic temperatures sometimes reported are achieved by moving into the ternary Fe-S-H system. These results adjust slightly the constraints on eutectic temperatures allowed for partly solidified cores on small planets. H substantially diminishes the temperature extent of the melting interval in Fe-S by reducing the melting points of the crystalline phases more than it depresses the eutectic.


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Meteoritics & Planetary Science

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Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Published Here
September 29, 2015