Earth’s accretion inferred from iron isotopic anomalies of supernova nuclear statistical equilibrium origin

1Timo Hopp,1Nicolas Dauphas,2Fridolin Spitzer,2Christoph Burkhardt,2Thorsten Kleine
Earth and Planetary Science Letters 577, 117245 Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2021.117245]
1Origins Laboratory, Department of the Geophysical Sciences and Enrico Fermi Institute, The University of Chicago, 5743 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
2Institut für Planetologie, University of Münster, Wilhelm-Klemm-Str. 10, 48149 Münster, Germany
Copyright Elsevier

Nucleosynthetic Fe isotopic anomalies in meteorites may be used to learn about the early evolution of the solar system and to identify the origin and nature of the material that built the terrestrial planets. Using high-precision iron isotopic data of 23 iron meteorites from nine major chemical groups we show that all iron meteorites define the same dichotomy between non-carbonaceous (NC) and a carbonaceous (CC) meteorites previously observed for other elements. The Fe isotopic anomalies are predominantly produced by variations in 54Fe, where all CC iron meteorites are characterized by an excess in 54Fe relative to NC iron meteorites. This excess in 54Fe is accompanied by an excess in 58Ni observed in the same CC meteorite groups. Together, these overabundances of 54Fe and 58Ni are explained by nuclear statistical equilibrium either in type Ia supernovae or in the Si/S shell of core-collapse supernovae.

The Fe isotopic composition of Earth’s mantle plots on or close to correlations defined by Fe, Mo, and Ru isotopic anomalies in iron meteorites, indicating that throughout Earth’s accretion, the isotopic composition of its building blocks did not drastically change. While Earth’s mantle has a similar Fe isotopic composition to CI chondrites, the latter are clearly distinct from Earth’s mantle for other elements (e.g., Cr and Ni) whose delivery to Earth coincided with Fe. The fact that CI chondrites exhibit large Cr and Ni isotopic anomalies relative to Earth’s mantle, therefore, demonstrates that CI chondrites are unlikely to have contributed significant Fe to Earth and are not its main building blocks.

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