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Non-ideal liquidus curve in the Fe-S system and Mercury's snowing core

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Abstract

[1] We conducted multi-anvil experiments to investigate the melting behavior of the iron-sulfur system at moderate pressures. Our data reveal a positive departure from ideal solution behavior at 14 GPa, as indicated by the presence of two inflection points on the liquidus curve of iron-rich compositions. In contrast, the shape of the liquidus curve at 10 GPa is consistent with nearly ideal mixing between end-member components. Combined with existing data at lower pressures and above 20 GPa, our results suggest a negative liquidus temperature gradient under conditions found at shallow depths in Mercury's core. At the present time, the core is most likely precipitating solid iron in the form of snow, at a single depth or in two distinct zones. Formation and segregation of iron snow would alter the thermal and chemical state of the core and influence the origin and surface expression of the planet's magnetic field.>

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