Theory and observations point to the occurrence of magma ponds or oceans in the early evolution of terrestrial planets and in many early-accreting planetesimals. The apparent ubiquity of melting during giant accretionary impacts suggests that silicate and metallic material may be processed through multiple magma oceans before reaching solidity in a planet. The processes of magma ocean formation and solidification, therefore, strongly influence the earliest compositional differentiation and volatile content of the terrestrial planets, and they form the starting point for cooling to clement, habitable conditions and for the onset of thermally driven mantle convection and plate tectonics. This review focuses on evidence for magma oceans on planetesimals and planets and on research concerning the processes of compositional differentiation in the silicate magma ocean, distribution and degassing of volatiles, and cooling.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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