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The evolution of an impact-generated atmosphere

Lange, Manfred A. and Ahrens, Thomas J. (1982) The evolution of an impact-generated atmosphere. Icarus, 51 (1). pp. 96-120. ISSN 0019-1035. doi:10.1016/0019-1035(82)90031-8.

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Shock wave and thermodynamic data for rock-forming and volatile-bearing minerals are used to determine minimum impact velocities (v_(cr)) and minimum impact pressures (p_(cr)) required to form a primary H_2O atmosphere during planetary accretion from chondritelike planetesimals. The escape of initially released water from an accreting planet is controlled by the dehydration efficiency. Since different planetary surface porosities will result from formation of a regolith, v_(cr) and p_(cr) can vary from 1.5 to 5.8 km/sec and from 90 to 600 kbar, respectively, for target porosities between 0 and ∼45%. On the basis of experimental data, hydration rates for forsterite and enstatite are derived. For a global regolith layer on the Earth's surface, the maximum hydration rate equals 6 × 10^(10) g H_2O sec^(−1) during accretion of the Earth. Attenuation of impact-induced shock pressure is modeled to the extent that the amount of released water as a function of projectile radius, impact velocity, weight fraction of water in the target, target porosity, and dehydration efficiency can be estimated. The two primary processes considered are the impact release of water bound in hydrous minerals (e.g., serpentine) and the subsequent reincorporation of free water by hydration of forsterite and enstatite. These processes are described in terms of model calculations for the accretion of the Earth. Parameters which lead to a primary atmosphere/hydrosphere are: an accretion time of ⪅ 1.6 × 10^8years, the use of an accretion model defined by Weidenschilling (1974, 1976), a mean planetesimal radius of 0.5 km, a hydration rate of 6 × 10^(10) g H_2O sec^(−1) inferred from a mean porosity of ∼ 10% for the upper 1 km of the accreting Earth, and values for the dehydration efficiency, DE, of 0.55 and 0.07 for the maximum and minimum pressure decay model, respectively. Conditions which prohibit the formation of a primary atmosphere include an accretion time much longer than 1.6 × 10^8 years, a hydration rate for forsterite and enstatite well in excess of 6 × 10^(10) g H_2O sec^(−1), and a dehydration efficiency DE < 0.07. We conclude that the concept of dehydration efficiency is of dominant importance in determining the degree to which an accreting planet acquires an atmosphere during its formation.

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Additional Information:© 1982 by Academic Press, Inc. Received August 18, 1981; Revised March 24, 1982. M. A. Lange would like to thank the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International for financial support during part of this study. He is currently supported by a grant of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Helpful comments of E. Gaffney, G. F. Meadows, and one anonymous reviewer are gratefully acknowledged. This work was supported by NASA Grants NGL-05-002-105 and NSG-7129. Contribution No. 3681, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. 91125.
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Rotary Foundation of Rotary InternationalUNSPECIFIED
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)UNSPECIFIED
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Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences3681
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Official Citation:Lange, M. A., & Ahrens, T. J. (1982). The evolution of an impact-generated atmosphere. Icarus, 51(1), 96-120. doi:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:51208
Deposited On:05 Nov 2014 20:12
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 19:07

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