Prof. John Hernlund Earth-Life Science Institute Tokyo Institute of Technology
Terrestrial planets and moons are thought to form in an environment characterized by energetic accretion and extensive melting events called magma oceans. Planetary cores are forged, primitive compositional heterogeneity is created, primordial atmospheres are outgassed, the first crust is formed, and the initial conditions for subsequent planetary evolution are fundamentally set by magma ocean processes. Magma oceanology is therefore of critical importance to understanding the birth of terrestrial planets and moons and is a key bridge between research fields concerned with planetary accretion, composition, and subsequent evolution. At the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) in Tokyo we have brought together a diverse team ranging from planetary formation theorists, atmosphere modellers, geodynamicists, mineral physicists, and geochemists to establish a more systematic approach to understanding magma oceans. As a collaborative effort we are now merging specific phenomena that require very different expertise and assembling it together to solve some of the big problems in Earth science. In this talk I will cover several interesting aspects of magma oceans, and the new insights we are presently uncovering.