The Role of Reducing Conditions in Building Mercury

Extremely reducing conditions, such as those that prevailed during the accretion and differentiation of Mercury, change the “normal” pattern of behaviour of many chemical elements. Lithophile elements can become chalcophile, siderophile elements can become lithophile, and volatile elements can become refractory. In this context, unexpected elements, such as Si, are extracted to the core, while others (S, C) concentrate in the silicate portion of the planet, eventually leading to an exotic surface mineralogy. In this article, experimental, theoretical and cosmochemical arguments are applied to the understanding of how reducing conditions influenced Mercury, from the nature of its building blocks to the dynamics of its volcanism.

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