The cosmochemical behavior of mercury

Dante S. Lauretta, Bertrand Devouard, Peter R. Buseck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We review long-standing reports of both the 'Hg paradox' that Hg abundances in meteorites are inconsistent with its volatile behavior and the anomalous 196Hg/202Hg ratios in all types of extraterrestial material. A careful study of the literature suggests that both results may be due to overestimation of 202Hg abundances from neutron activation analysis. We reevaluate Hg condensation in the solar nebula using both volatility trends for chondritic meteorites and thermodynamic calculations. The extent of Hg depletion in Allende indicates a 50% condensation temperature of 350 K. Thermodynamic calculations show that Hg condenses into various metal alloys at 300 K or lower. At lower temperatures, Hg can be incorporated into Fe, Ni sulfides as a trace element. We investigate chemisorption as a method for incorporating Hg into solid material in the solar nebula. A large fraction of Hg can chemisorb on metal surfaces at temperatures as high as 515 K, depending on the grain size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-47
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 15 1999


  • Condensation
  • Cosmochemistry
  • Isotope ratios
  • Mercury
  • Solar nebula

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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