GEOCHEMISTRY: Preservation of Earth-forming events in the tungsten isotopic composition of modern flood basalts

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Abstract

How much of Earth's compositional variation dates to processes that occurred during planet formation remains an unanswered question. High-precision tungsten isotopic data from rocks from two large igneous provinces, the North Atlantic Igneous Province and the Ontong Java Plateau, reveal preservation to the Phanerozoic of tungsten isotopic heterogeneities in the mantle. These heterogeneities, caused by the decay of hafnium-182 in mantle domains with high hafnium/tungsten ratios, were created during the first ˜50 million years of solar system history, indicating that portions of the mantle that formed during Earth's primary accretionary period have survived to the present.

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