- © 2016 Mineralogical Society of America
The highly siderophile elements (HSE) consist of the Platinum Group Elements (PGE: Ru, Rh, Pd, Os, Ir, Pt) along with rhenium and gold. These transition elements show relative chemical inertness and high market values, which respectively earned them the additional names of noble metals and precious metals.
The HSE show a very pronounced affinity for iron metal, which translates into metal/silicate partition coefficients similar to or higher than 10,000 over large ranges of both pressure and temperature (e.g., O’Neill et al. 1995; Borisov and Palme 2000; Ertel et al. 1999, 2001, 2006, 2008; Fortenfant et al. 2003, 2006; Brenan et al. 2005; Cottrell and Walker 2006; Brenan and McDonough 2009; Laurenz et al. 2010; Mann et al. 2012; see Brenan et al. 2016, this volume for detailed review). Consequently, the HSE are thought to have been efficiently sequestered within the metallic core of our planet during the metal–silicate differentiation of Earth, leaving the silicate counterpart almost HSE-barren. Investigations of mantle peridotites since the 1970s revealed ng.g−1 level abundances as well as close-to-chondritic proportions of the HSE (Chou 1978; Jagoutz et al. 1979; Mitchell and Keays 1981; McDonough and Sun 1995; Becker et al. 2006; Fischer-Gödde et al. 2011). Such abundances and inter-HSE fractionations are not predicted for the silicate Earth left after separation of the metallic core for low- or high-pressure core–mantle differentiation (see Brenan et al. 2016, this volume). The close agreement between the osmium isotopic compositions of fertile mantle peridotites and those of chondritic meteorites (Walker et al. 2002a), which requires nearly identical Re/Os ratios in these two reservoirs, provides particularly convincing evidence that the mantle’s HSE content cannot simply represent the residue left after core formation. …