Iron meteorites of similar composition of Earth's inner and outer core
Iron is the sixth most abundant element in the Universe, formed as the final step of nucleosynthesis, by silicon fusing in massive stars. Metallic iron is rarely found on the surface of the earth because it tends to oxidize, but its oxides are pervasive and represent the primary ores. While it makes up about 5% of the Earth's crust, both the Earth's inner and outer core are believed to consist largely of an iron-nickel alloy constituting 35% of the mass of the Earth as a whole. Iron is consequently the most abundant element on Earth, but only the fourth most abundant element in the Earth's crust. Most of the iron in the crust is found combined with oxygen as iron oxide minerals such as hematite and magnetite. Large deposits of iron are found in banded iron formations. These geological formations are a type of rock consisting of repeated thin layers of iron oxides, either magnetite (Fe3O4) or hematite (Fe2O3), alternating with bands of iron-poor shale and chert. The banded iron formations are common in the time between 3,700 million years ago and 1,800 million years ago
About 1 in 20 meteorites consist of the unique iron-nickel minerals taenite (35–80% iron) and kamacite (90–95% iron). Although rare, iron meteorites are the main form of natural metallic iron on the Earth's surface. It was proven by Mössbauer spectroscopy that the red color of the surface of Mars is derived from an iron oxide-rich regolith.
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