Enstatite chondrites EL3 as building blocks for the Earth: The debate over the 146Sm–142Nd systematics

1M. Boyet, 2A. Bouvier, 1P. Frossard, 1T. Hammouda, 3M. Garçon, 1A. Gannoun
Earth and Planetary Science Letters 488, 68-78 Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2018.02.004https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2018.02.004]
1Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans, Université Clermont Auvergne, France
2Department of Earth Sciences, Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
3Department of Earth Sciences, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Copyright Elsevier

The 146Sm–142Nd extinct decay scheme (146Sm half-life of 103 My) is a powerful tool to trace early Earth silicate differentiation. Differences in 142Nd abundance measured between different chondrite meteorite groups and the modern Earth challenges the interpretation of the 142Nd isotopic variations found in terrestrial samples because the origin of the Earth and the nature of its building blocks is still an ongoing debate. As bulk meteorites, the enstatite chondrites (EC) have isotope signatures that are the closest to the Earth value with an average small deficit of ∼10 ppm in 142Nd relative to modern terrestrial samples. Here we review all the Nd isotope data measured on EC so far, and present the first measurements on an observed meteorite fall Almahata Sitta containing pristine fragments of an unmetamorphosed enstatite chondrite belonging to the EL3 subgroup. Once 142Nd/144Nd ratios are normalized to a common chondritic evolution, samples from the EC group (both EL and EH) have a deficit in 142Nd but the dispersion is important (μ142Nd=−10±12 (2SD) ppm). This scatter reflects their unique mineralogy associated to their formation in reduced conditions (low fO2 or high C/O). Rare-earth elements are mainly carried by the sulfide phase oldhamite (CaS) that is more easily altered than silicates by weathering since most of the EC meteorites are desert finds. The EL6 have fractionated rare-earth element patterns with depletion in the most incompatible elements. Deviations in Nd mass independent stable isotope ratios in enstatite chondrites relative to terrestrial standard are not resolved with the level of analytical precision achieved by modern mass spectrometry techniques. Here we show that enstatite chondrites from the EL3 and EL6 subgroups may come from different parent bodies. Samples from the EL3 subgroup have Nd (μ142Nd=−0.8±7.0, 2SD) and Ru isotope ratios undistinguishable from that of the Bulk Silicate Earth. EL3 samples have never been analyzed for Mo isotopes. Because these enstatite chondrites are relatively small in size and number, they are usually not available for destructive isotopic measurements. Average values based on the measurement of EL6 samples should not be considered as representative of the whole EL group because of melting and thermal metamorphism events affecting the Sm/Nd ratios and prolonged open-system history. The EL3 chondrites are the best candidates as the Earth’s building blocks. These new results remove the need to change the composition of refractory incompatible elements early in Earth’s history.

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