The short-lived Hf-W isotope system has a wide range of important applications in cosmochemistry and geochemistry. The siderophile behavior of W, combined with the lithophile nature of Hf, makes the system uniquely useful as a chronometer of planetary accretion and differentiation. Tungsten isotopic data for meteorites show that the parent bodies of some differentiated meteorites accreted within 1 million years after Solar System formation. Melting and differentiation on these bodies took ∼1–3 million years and was fueled by decay of 26Al. The timescale for accretion and core formation increases with planetary mass and is ∼10 million years for Mars and >34 million years for Earth. The nearly identical 182W compositions for the mantles of the Moon and Earth are difficult to explain in current models for the formation of the Moon. Terrestrial samples with ages spanning ∼4 billion years reveal small 182W variations within the silicate Earth, demonstrating that traces of Earth's earliest formative period have been preserved throughout Earth's history.


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