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Formation and evolution of the solar system and the planets

Animators : Yves Marrocchi & Evelyn Füri

Permanent investigators : Guillaume Caro, [Camille Cartier], François Faure, Evelyn Füri, Andrey Gurenko, Béatrice Luais, Yves Marrocchi, Bernard Marty, Laurent Tissandier

Postdoc fellows :

Isabella Pignatelli (2016-2018), [Célia Dalou]

PhD students :

Précillia Morino (2013-2017), Lionel Vacher (2015-2018), Guillaume Florin (2016-2019), [Julien Boulliung (2017-2020)]


The classical model of solar system formation involves the gravitational collapse of a cloud of gas and dust, its warming, the creation of a central star, the cooling of the cloud by expansion and loss of matter, the formation of increasingly massive bodies, and finally the formation and stabilisation of a succession of planets. This model is based on two approaches, astronomical observations of other star systems and the analysis of material available in the solar system (the Earth and the Moon, Mars via SNCs, meteorites, and certain astronomical measurements of giant planets and comets). Although this model is still widely in use, we do not yet know the exact origin of the matter in the solar system (in particular, whether isotopic anomalies are inherited or result from gas-radiation interactions in the disc), the formation timeline of the central star and first solids, or the role of shocks as an alternative to the evaporation-condensation model. The period covered in this project is that of the accretion disc, during which time the Sun was being built from the mixture of gas and dust inherited from the interstellar environment. The most recent results show that many processes that were previously considered to be hierarchical (condensation, the formation of chondrules, the accretion of chondrites and planetesimals, the differentiation of planetesimals, and the accretion of embryos and, finally, of planets) are, in fact, largely synchronous. This finding significantly changes our view of the early evolution of the solar system. A new understanding of the possible sequence of these processes, of the possible relationships of cause and effect, and of their locations, both temporal and "geographical", within the disc becomes necessary. This understanding is the objective of this study, which will combine mineralogical, chemical, and isotopic studies of extraterrestrial matter ; experimental simulations ; and astrophysical models. One of the essential aspects of this work is the correlation between the young solar system (as described through meteorites) and young stars and their discs (as observed by astrophysicists).

Formation and evolution of regoliths
Chondrules as probes of the physico-chemical conditions of the disc
Simulation and dating of condensation processes
Radiation-matter interaction in the disc

Earth and Primitive Life

The Hadean (3.8 to 4.5 Gy) and Archean (2.4 to 3.8 Gy) eons represent key periods in the history of the Earth. Our understanding of that time period is obscured by the extreme rarity of rocks older than 3.5 Gy, but we know that it began with the fusion of the mantle during the lunar impact and that it continued with the establishment of a differentiated crust and a proto-atmosphere at 4.45 Gy. It has also been suggested that the Hadean period witnessed the appearance of the first life forms in a relatively warm primitive ocean that could have been formed at 4.3 Gy.

Despite these major advances, the evolution of the young Earth and its fluid envelopes remains subject to numerous uncertainties. On the one hand, our knowledge of Hadean geology is almost exclusively based on the study of zircons from the Jack Hills (<4.4 Gy). While these exceptional specimens have served to establish a geodynamic and compositional model for the Hadean lithosphere, it is unclear whether these constraints can be generalised for the entire planet or whether they represent a mode of crustal growth that would remain marginal until the end of the Archean period. As for the composition of the ocean and atmosphere, these can be understood only through the isotopic and chemical record of the supposedly oldest sediments, which are Banded Iron Formations (BIFS), cherts, or barites. The study of these sediments requires the development of specific tracers to overcome the secondary disturbances that have invariably affected the oldest terrestrial rocks.

Our research focuses on three main areas that aim to better understand and quantify i) the geodynamic processes at work during the first billion years, ii) the physico-chemical parameters (T, PCO2...) of the ocean-atmosphere system, and iii) the early stages of the evolution of life on our planet. These studies are based on the development of innovative isotopic tools that rely on the CRPG analytical facilities (ion probes, noble gas mass spectrometers, TIMS, and next-generation ICP-MS), and on the geological exploration of Archean cratons in search of a geological record from this period of Earth’s history.

Hadean Geology : From the lunar impact to the creation of the first continents
Composition and temperature of Archean Oceans
Evolution of the Precambrian atmosphere
Biosignatures and Primitive Life

Recent publications


Avice, G., B. Marty, and R. Burgess. "The origin and degassing history of the Earth’s atmosphere revealed by Archean xenon." Nature Communications (2017).
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Chaussidon, M., Z. Deng, J. Villeneuve, J. Moureau, B. Watson, F. Richter, and F. Moynier. "In situ analysis of non-traditional isotopes by SIMS and LA–MC–ICP–MS: key aspects and the example of Mg isotopes in olivines and silicate glasses." Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry 182 (2017): 127–163.
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Faure, F., L. Tissandier, L. Florentin, and K. Devineau. "A magmatic origin for silica-rich glass inclusions hosted in porphyritic magnesian olivines in chondrules: An experimental study." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 204 (2017): 19–31.
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Füri, E., E. Deloule, and R. Trappitsch. "The production rate of cosmogenic deuterium at the Moon’s surface." Earth and Planetary Science Letters 474 (2017): 76–82.
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Florentin, L., F. Faure, E. Deloule, L. Tissandier, A. Gurenko, and D. Lequin. "Origin of Na in glass inclusions hosted in olivine from Allende CV3 and Jbilet Winselwan CM2: Implications for chondrule formation." Earth and Planetary Science Letters 474 (2017): 160–171.
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Kuga, M., G. Cernogora, Y. Marrocchi, L. Tissandier, and B. Marty. "Processes of noble gas elemental and isotopic fractionations in plasma-produced organic solids: Cosmochemical implications." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 217 (2017): 219–230.
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Marty, B., K. Altweg, Balsigern H., A. Bar-Nun, D. V. Bekaert, J. J. Berthelier, A. Bieler, C. Briois, U. Calmonte, M. Combi et al. "Xenon isotopes in 67P/Churyumov- Gerasimenko show that comets contributed to Earth's atmosphere." Science, no. 356 (2017): 1069–1072.
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Pignatelli, I., Y. Marrocchi, E. Mugnaioli, F. Bourdelle, and M. Gounelle. "Mineralogical, crystallographic and redox features of the earliest stages of fluid alteration in CM chondrites." Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 209 (2017): 106–122.
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Rouxel, O., and B. Luais. "Germanium isotope geochemistry." Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry 82 (2017): 601–656.
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Sossi, P. A., F. Moynier, M. Chaussidon, J. Villeneuve, C. Kato, and M. Gounelle. "Early Solar System irradiation quantified by linked vanadium and beryllium isotope variations in meteorites." Nature Astronomy 1, no. 55 (2017).
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