by Rice University, May 16, 2018 in ScienceDaily
Clues from some unusual Arizona rocks pointed Rice University scientists toward a discovery — a subtle chemical signature in rocks the world over — that could answer a long-standing mystery: What stole the iron from Earth’s continents?
The find has weighty implications. If the iron content of continental rocks was a bit greater, as it is in the rocks beneath Earth’s oceans, for example, our atmosphere might look more like that of Mars, a planet so littered with rusty, oxidized rocks that it appears red even from Earth.
In a new paper available online in Science Advances, Rice petrologists Cin-Ty Lee, Ming Tang, Monica Erdman and Graham Eldridge make a case that garnet steals the most iron from continents. The hypothesis flies in the face of 40-plus years of geophysical thinking, and Tang, a postdoctoral fellow, and Lee, professor and chair of the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Rice, said they expect a healthy dose of skepticism from peers.
“The standard view … (…)