Mantle Chemistry and Accretion History of the Earth

  • H. Wänke
  • G. Dreibus
  • E. Jagoutz


The chemical composition of the Earth’s primitive mantle (present mantle + crust) yields important information about the accretion history of the Earth. For the upper mantle reliable data on its composition have been obtained from the study of primitive and unaltered ultramafic xenoliths (Jagoutz et al. 1979). Normalized to C 1 and Si the Earth’s mantle is slightly enriched in refractory oxyphile elements and in magnesium. It might be that this enrichment is fictitious and only due to the normalization to Si and that the Earth’s mantle is depleted in Si, which partly entered the Earth’s core in metallic form. Alternatively, the depletion of Si may only be valid for the upper mantle and is compensated by a Si enrichment of the lower mantle.

For the elements V, Cr, and Mn the most plausible explanation for their depletion in the Earth’s mantle is their partial removal into the core. Besides the high concentrations of moderately siderophile elements (Ni, Co, etc.) in the Earth’s mantle, the similarity of their C 1 abundances with that of moderately volatile (F, Na, K, Rb, etc.) and partly even with some highly volatile elements (In) is striking.

We report on new data especially concerning halogens and other volatiles. The halogens (CI, Br, I) are present in the Earth’s mantle in extremely low concentrations, but relative to each other they appear in C 1 abundance ratios.

To account for the observed abundances an inhomogeneous accretion from two components is proposed. According to this model accretion began with the highly reduced component A, with all Fe and even part of Si as metal and Cr, V, and Mn in reduced state, but almost devoid of moderately volatiles and volatiles. The accretion continued with more and more oxidized matter (component B), containing all elements, including moderately and at least some volatile elements in C 1 abundances. The two component inhomogeneous accretion model is discussed in light of the abundances of a number of elements which are especially crucial model.


Incompatible Element Lower Mantle Primitive Mantle Solar Nebula Volatile Element 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Wänke
  • G. Dreibus
  • E. Jagoutz
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für ChemieMainzGermany

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