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Evidence from MESSENGER for sulfur‐ and carbon‐driven explosive volcanism on Mercury

Weider, Shoshana Z.; Nittler, Larry R.; Murchie, Scott L.; Peplowski, Patrick N.; McCoy, Timothy J.; Kerber, Laura; Klimczak, Christian; Ernst, Carolyn M.; Goudge, Timothy A.; Starr, Richard D.; Izenberg, Noam R.; Klima, Rachel L.; Solomon, Sean C.

Targeted MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) X‐Ray Spectrometer measurements of Mercury's largest identified pyroclastic deposit are combined with neutron and reflectance spectroscopy data to constrain the composition of volatiles involved in the eruption that emplaced the pyroclastic material. The deposit, northeast of the Rachmaninoff basin, is depleted in S (relative to Ca and Si) and C, compared with the rest of Mercury's surface. Spectral reflectance measurements of the deposit indicate relatively high overall reflectance and an oxygen‐metal charge transfer (OMCT) absorption band at ultraviolet wavelengths. These results are consistent with oxidation of graphite and sulfides during magma ascent, via reaction with oxides in the magma or assimilated country rock, and the formation of S‐ and C‐bearing volatile species. Consumption of graphite during oxidation could account for the elevated reflectance of the pyroclastic material, and the strength of the OMCT band is consistent with ~0.03–0.1 wt % FeO in the deposit.

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Also Published In

Geophysical Research Letters

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Seismology, Geology, and Tectonophysics
Published Here
August 26, 2020