A source of Earth’s mantle anomalies is a moon-forming impactor

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Source: Moon-forming impactor as a source of Earth’s basal mantle anomalies

Planetary giant impacts: convergence of high-resolution astrophysical simulations using SWIFT and efficient spherical initial conditions

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Source: Moon-forming impactor as a source of Earth’s basal mantle anomalies

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Source: Moon-forming impactor as a source of Earth’s basal mantle anomalies

Thermo-chemical convection in a spherical shell with a MORB and harzburgite composition

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Such an enormous impact early in Earth’s development should have left some traces. The strange parts of the Earth’s mantle, the layer between the crust and the core, are part of the idea that those traces might include them. Scientists call these formations large low-velocity provinces, because seismic waves travel more slowly through them than they do through the rest of the mantle.

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The researchers ran computer simulations of the interaction between Theia’s mantle and that of Earth from the moment of the collision to the present. This showed that some material from Theia initially sank to the bottom portion of Earth’s mantle and that more of Theia piled up there over time, forming the blobs. The results were reported at the planetary-science meeting.

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This idea for mantle anomalies is not sure if it will hold up in the long run. Ballmer says the model needs to be tested. It is an idea that is worth pursuing.

The molten layer swirled the Theia material into the Earth. The material sunk through the molten portion of the mantle, into the bottom layer. Eventually it would have formed two separate blobs. Meanwhile, other Theia material was launched into orbit and formed the Moon.

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