Iron content in lava could offer clues to planets’ birth
>> Lava differences unveil complexities of Kilauea
Kilauea's lavas might hold clues to planetary formation, a research group led by Nicolas Dauphas of the University of Chicago said in a recent issue of the journal Science.
The scientists analyzed iron isotopes in Kilauea lava samples with a plasma source mass spectrometer and found that as lava in the crater cooled and solidified, the content of its iron isotopes evolved.
"A good analogy is putting a bucket of salty water in your freezer and monitoring what happens to the salt concentration in the water as the ice forms," Dauphas said in a University of Chicago article.
He said that if the same method was applied to terrestrial and extraterrestrial basalts, including meteorites from Mars and the asteroids, it could provide "more definitive evidence for a scientifically popular idea that the moon was born from a giant collision between Earth and another large object."
"Michael Garcia, University of Hawaii geologist-geophysicist, said: "They went to Kilauea to first establish whether there is variation (in isotopes), which they did. The next goal is to go to the moon or Mars and look at iron isotopes to see how they compared."
"But "it is a more complicated process than I think the authors of the paper appreciated," he said. "Some of the reasons for iron isotope variation may be due to other processes. The great thing about science is this will be tested. Someone will come along and beat it with a stick."
Helen Altonn, Star-Bulletin