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Compared to the Solar System as a whole, Earth is depleted in volatile elements, such as hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen, which likely never condensed on planets formed in the inner, hotter, part of the Solar System.Earth is also depleted in moderately volatile elements, such as silver.
“That’s where silver isotopes can really help.” Silver has two stable isotopes, one of which, silver-107 was produced in the early Solar System by the rapid radioactive decay of palladium-107.
The heavier isotope, tungsten-184, is stable and has existed since the planet first formed.
Tungsten-182, on the other hand, results from the decay of hafnium-182, which is highly unstable.
The addition of volatile-rich material could have occurred in a single event, perhaps the giant collision between the proto-Earth and a Mars-sized object thought to have ejected enough material into Earth orbit to form the Moon.
The results of the study support a 30-year old model of planetary growth called “heterogeneous accretion,” which proposes that the Earth’s building blocks changed in composition as the planet accreted.