Combining IR and X‐ray microtomography data sets: Application to Itokawa particles and to Paris meteorite

1,2Zelia Dionnet et al. (>10)
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article []
1DIST‐Università Parthenope, Napoli, Italy
2INAF‐IAPS, Roma, Italy
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

In the near future, a new generation of sample return missions (Hayabusa2, OSIRIS‐REx, MMX, etc.) will collect samples from small solar system bodies. To maximize the scientific outcome of laboratory studies and minimize the loss of precious extraterrestrial samples, an analytical sequence from less destructive to more destructive techniques needs to be established. In this work, we present a combined X‐ray and IR microtomography applied to five Itokawa particles and one fragment of the primitive carbonaceous chondrite Paris. We show that this analytical approach is able to provide a 3‐D physical and chemical characterization of individual extraterrestrial particles, using the measurement of their 3‐D structure and porosity, and the detection of mineral and organic phases, and their spatial co‐localization in 3‐D. We propose these techniques as an efficient first step in a multitechnique analytical sequence on microscopic samples collected by space missions.

The effects of possible contamination by sample holders on samples to be returned by Hayabusa2

1Naoki Shirai et al. (>10)
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article []
1Department of Chemistry, Graduate School of Science, Tokyo Metropolitan University, Hachioji, Tokyo, 192‐0397 Japan
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Chemical compositions of materials used for new sample holders (vertically aligned carbon nanotubes [VACNTs] and polyimide film), which were developed for the analysis of Hayabusa2‐return samples, were determined by instrumental neutron activation analysis and/or instrumental photon activation analysis, to estimate contamination effects from the sample holders. The synthetic quartz plate used for the sample holders was also analyzed. Ten elements (Na, Al, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Eu, W, Au, and Th) and 14 elements (Na, Al, K, Sc, Ti, Cr, Zn, Ga, Br, Sb, La, Eu, Ir, and Au) could be detected in the VACNTs and polyimide film, respectively. The VACNT data show that contamination by this material with respect to the Murchison meteorite is negligible in terms of the elemental ratios (e.g., Fe/Mn, Na/Al, and Mn/Cr) used for the classification of meteorites due to the extremely low density of VACNTs. However, for the Au/Cr ratio, even small degrees (1.7 wt%) of contamination by VACNTs will change the Au/Cr ratio. Elemental ratios used for the classification of meteorites are only influenced by large amounts of contamination (>60 wt%) of polyimide film, which is unlikely to occur. In contrast, detectable effects on Ti isotopic compositions are caused by >0.1 and >0.3 wt% contamination by VACNTs and polyimide film, respectively, and Hf isotopic changes are caused by >0.1 wt% contamination by VACNTs. The new sample holders (VACNTs and polyimide film) are suitable for chemical classification of Hayabusa2‐return samples, because of their ease of use, applicability to multiple analytical instruments, and low contamination levels for most elements.

Two-stage formation of pallasites and the evolution of their parent bodies revealed by deformation experiments

1Nicolas P.Walte,2Giulio F.D.Solferino,3Gregor J.Golabek,3Danielle Silva Souza,3Audrey Bouvier
Earth and Planetary Science Letters 546, 116419 Link to Article []
1Heinz Meier-Leibnitz Centre for Neutron Science (MLZ), Technical University Munich, 85748 Garching, Germany
2Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, TW20 0EX Egham, United Kingdom
3Bayerisches Geoinstitut (BGI), University of Bayreuth, 95447 Bayreuth, Germany
Copyright Elsevier

Pallasites, stony-iron meteorites predominantly composed of olivine crystals and Fe-Ni metal, are samples of the interior of early solar system bodies and can thus provide valuable insights into the formation of terrestrial planets. However, pallasite origin is controversial, either sampling the core-mantle boundary or the shallower mantle of planetesimals that suffered an impact. We present high strain-rate deformation experiments with the model system olivine + FeS melt ± gold melt to investigate pallasite formation and the evolution of their parent bodies and compare the resulting microstructures to two samples of Seymchan pallasite. Our experiments reproduced the major textural features of pallasites including the different olivine shapes, olivine aggregates, and the distribution of the metal and sulfide phases. These results indicate that pallasites preserve evidence for a two-stage formation process including inefficient core-mantle differentiation and an impact causing disruption, metal melt injection, and fast cooling within months to years. Olivine aggregates, important constituents of angular pallasites, are reinterpreted as samples of a partially differentiated mantle containing primordial metallic melt not stemming from the impactor. The long-term retention of more than 10 vol% of metal melt in a silicate mantle sampled by olivine aggregates indicates high effective percolation thresholds and inefficient metal-silicate differentiation in planetesimals not experiencing a magma ocean stage.


Xenon systematics of individual lunar zircons, a new window on the history of the lunar surface

1Carolyn A.Crow,2Sarah A.Crowther,3Kevin D.McKeegan,2Grenville Turner,4Henner Busemann,2Jamie D.Gilmour
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (in Press) Link to Article []
1Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder
2School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester
3Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles
4ETH Zürich
Copyright Elsevier

We demonstrate a new way of investigating the processing of the lunar surface (and other planetary regoliths) that combines XeS-XeN ages (based on uranium fission) in individual zircons with their xenon isotopic record of solar wind and cosmic ray exposure. We report the first xenon isotopic analyses of individual lunar zircons (from Apollo 14 soil and breccias samples). Parallel analyses of a suite of zircons from the Vredefort impact structure in South Africa revealed XeS-XeN ages that agree well with U-Pb systematics, suggesting that the diffusion kinetics of xenon and lead in zircon are similar in the pressure-temperature environment of sub-basin floors. In contrast, all Apollo 14 zircons examined exhibit XeS-XeN ages markedly younger than the associated U-Pb and 207Pb-206Pb ages, and soil zircons with 207Pb-206Pb ages greater than 3900 Ma produced an abundance of XeS-XeN ages <1000 Ma. The young ages cannot be explained by thermal neutron irradiation on the lunar surface, and diurnal heating is unlikely to cause preferential loss of xenon. As such these young soil zircon ages likely record regolith gardening processes. The breccia zircons typically record older ages, >2400 Ma, suggesting that these samples may be useful for investigating ancient events and regolith processing at an earlier epoch. However, none of the zircons contain xenon from now-extinct 244Pu implying that either the samples have completely degassed since ∼3900 Ma or that the initial Pu/U ratio of the Moon is lower than that on Earth. We also describe a methodology for conducting component deconvolution that can be applied to multi-isotopes systems beyond xenon. We have also determined new xenon isotopic yields from rare earth element spallation in the lunar environment and high precision yields for neutron induced fission of 235U in geologic samples.

The hydrogen isotopic composition of lunar melt inclusions: An interplay of complex magmatic and secondary processes

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (in Press) Link to Article []
1School of Physical Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK
2Department of Earth Sciences, The Natural History Museum, London, SW7 5BD, UK
3Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK
Copyright Elsevier

Since the discovery of water (a term collectively used for the total H, OH and H2O) in samples derived from the lunar interior, heterogeneity in both water concentration and its hydrogen isotopic ratio has been documented for various lunar phases. However, most previous studies have focused on measurements of hydrogen in apatite, which typically forms during the final stages of melt crystallisation. To better constrain the abundance and isotopic composition of water in the lunar interior, we have targeted melt inclusions (MIs), in mare basalts, that are trapped during the earliest stages of melt crystallisation. Melt inclusions are expected to have suffered minimal syn- or post-eruption modification processes, and, therefore, should provide more accurate information about the history of H in the lunar interior. Here, we report H/18O measurements as calibrated water concentrations, and hydrogen isotope ratios obtained by secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) in a large set of basaltic MIs from Apollo mare basalts 10020, 10058, 12002, 12004, 12008, 12020, 12040, 14072 and 15016. Our results demonstrate that partially crystallised MIs from lunar basalts and their parental melts were influenced by a variety of processes such as hydrogen diffusion, degassing and assimilation of material affected by solar-wind implantation. Deconvolution of these processes show that lunar basaltic parental magmas were heterogeneous and had a broadly chondritic hydrogen isotopic composition with δD values varying between -200 and +200 ‰.

Evidence for diverse lunar melt compositions and mixing of the pre-3.9 Ga crust from zircon chemistry

1Dustin Trail,2Mélanie Barboni,3Kevin D.McKeegan
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (in Press) Link to Article []
1Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, USA
2School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ USA
3Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, University of California – Los Angeles, Los Angeles CA, 90095 USA
Copyright Elsevier

Lunar samples collected during Apollo missions are typically impact-related breccias or regolith that contain amalgamations of rocks and minerals with various origins (e.g., products of igneous differentiation, mantle melting, and/or impact events). The largest intact pre-Nectarian (∼≥3.92 Ga) fragments of igneous rock contained within the breccia and regolith rarely exceed 1 cm in size, and they often show evidence for impact recrystallization. This widespread mixing of disparate materials makes unraveling the magmatic history of pre-Nectarian period fraught with challenges. To address this issue, we combine U-Pb geochronology of Apollo 14 zircons (207Pb-206Pb ages from 3.93 to 4.36 Ga) with zircon trace element chemistry and thermodynamic models. Zircon crystallization temperatures are calculated with Ti-in-zircon thermometry after presenting new titania and silica activity models for lunar melts. We also present rare earth element (REE), P, actinide, and Mg+Fe+Al concentrations. While REE patterns and P yield little information about the parent melt origins of these out-of-context grains, U and Th concentrations are highly variable among pre-4.2 Ga zircons when compared to younger grains. Thus, the distribution of heat-producing radioactive elements in melt sources pervading the early lunar crust was heterogenous. Melt composition variation is confirmed by zircon Al concentrations and thermodynamic modeling that reveal at least two dominant magma signatures in the pre-4.0 Ga zircon population. One inferred magma type has a high alumina activity. This magma likely assimilated Feldspathic Highlands Terrane (FHT) anorthosites, though impact-generated melts of an alumina-rich target rock is a viable alternative. The other magma signature bears more similarities to KREEP basalts from the Procellarum KREEP Terrane (PKT), reflecting lower apparent alumina activities. Melt diversity seems to disappear after 4.0 Ga, with zircon recording magma compositions that largely fall in-between the two main groups found for pre-4.0 Ga samples. We interpret <4 Ga zircons to have formed from a mixture of PKT- and FHT-like rocks, consistent with the upper ∼15 km of the crust being thoroughly mixed and re-melted by basin-forming impacts during the pre-Nectarian period.

The micrometeorite flux to Earth during the earliest Paleogene reconstructed in the Bottaccione section (Umbrian Apennines), Italy

1Samuele Boschi,1Birger Schmitz,1Ellinor Martin,1Fredrik Terfelt
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article []
1Astrogeobiology Laboratory, Division of Nuclear Physics, Department of Physics, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Based on sediment‐dispersed extraterrestrial spinel grains in the Bottaccione limestone section in Italy, we reconstructed the micrometeorite flux to Earth during the early Paleocene. From a total of 843 kg of limestone, 86 extraterrestrial spinel grains (12 grains > 63 μm, and 74 in the 32–63 μm fraction) have been recovered. Our results indicate that the micrometeorite flux was not elevated during the early Paleocene. Ordinary chondrites dominated over achondritic meteorites similar to the recent flux, but H chondrites dominated over L and LL chondrites (69%, 22%, and 9%, respectively). This H‐chondrite dominance is similar to that recorded within an enigmatic 3He anomaly (70, 27, and 3%) in the Turonian, but different from just before this 3He anomaly and in the early Cretaceous, where ratios are similar to the recent flux (~45%, 45%, and 10%). The K‐Ar isotopic ages of recently fallen H chondrites indicate a small impact event on the H‐chondrite parent body ~50 to 100 Ma ago. We tentatively suggest that this event is recorded by the Turonian 3He anomaly, resulting in an H‐chondrite dominance up to the Paleocene. Our sample spanning the 20 cm above the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) boundary did not yield any spinel grains related to the K–Pg boundary impactor.

Identification of chondritic krypton and xenon in Yellowstone gases and the timing of terrestrial volatile accretion

1Michael W. Broadley,2Peter H. Barry,1David V. Bekaert,1David J. Byrne,3Antonio Caracausi,4Christopher J. Ballentine,1Bernard Marty
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the Unites States of America (in Press) Link to Article []
1Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques, UMR 7358 CNRS—Université de Lorraine, BP 20, F-54501 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France;
2Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543;
3Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, 90146 Palermo, Italy;
4Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, OX1 3AN Oxford, United Kingdom

Identifying the origin of noble gases in Earth’s mantle can provide crucial constraints on the source and timing of volatile (C, N, H2O, noble gases, etc.) delivery to Earth. It remains unclear whether the early Earth was able to directly capture and retain volatiles throughout accretion or whether it accreted anhydrously and subsequently acquired volatiles through later additions of chondritic material. Here, we report high-precision noble gas isotopic data from volcanic gases emanating from, in and around, the Yellowstone caldera (Wyoming, United States). We show that the He and Ne isotopic and elemental signatures of the Yellowstone gas requires an input from an undegassed mantle plume. Coupled with the distinct ratio of 129Xe to primordial Xe isotopes in Yellowstone compared with mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) samples, this confirms that the deep plume and shallow MORB mantles have remained distinct from one another for the majority of Earth’s history. Krypton and xenon isotopes in the Yellowstone mantle plume are found to be chondritic in origin, similar to the MORB source mantle. This is in contrast with the origin of neon in the mantle, which exhibits an isotopic dichotomy between solar plume and chondritic MORB mantle sources. The co-occurrence of solar and chondritic noble gases in the deep mantle is thought to reflect the heterogeneous nature of Earth’s volatile accretion during the lifetime of the protosolar nebula. It notably implies that the Earth was able to retain its chondritic volatiles since its earliest stages of accretion, and not only through late additions.

Mineralogy of Vera Rubin Ridge from the Mars Science Laboratory CheMin Instrument

1E.B.Rampe et al. (>10)
Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets) (in Press) Link to Article []
1NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, USA
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Son

Vera Rubin ridge (VRR) is an erosion‐resistant feature on the northwestern slope of Mount Sharp in Gale crater, Mars, and orbital visible/short‐wave infrared measurements indicate it contains red‐colored hematite. The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover performed an extensive campaign on VRR to study its mineralogy, geochemistry, and sedimentology to determine the depositional and diagenetic history of the ridge and constrain the processes by which the hematite could have formed. X‐ray diffraction (XRD) data from the CheMin instrument of four samples drilled on and below VRR demonstrate differences in iron, phyllosilicate, and sulfate mineralogy and hematite grain size. Hematite is common across the ridge, and its detection in a gray‐colored outcrop suggested localized regions with coarse‐grained hematite, which commonly forms from warm fluids. Broad XRD peaks for hematite in one sample below VRR and the abundance of FeOT in the amorphous component suggest the presence of nano‐crystalline hematite and amorphous Fe oxides/oxyhydroxides. Well‐crystalline akaganeite and jarosite are present in two samples drilled from VRR, indicating at least limited alteration by acid‐saline fluids. Collapsed nontronite is present below VRR, but samples from VRR contain phyllosilicate with d(001) = 9.6 Å, possibly from ferripyrophyllite or an acid‐altered smectite. The most likely cementing agents creating the ridge are hematite and opaline silica. We hypothesize late diagenesis can explain much of the mineralogical variation on the ridge, where multiple fluid episodes with variable pH, salinity, and temperature altered the rocks, causing the precipitation and crystallization of phases that are not otherwise in equilibrium.

Hydrothermal Precipitation of Sanidine (Adularia) Having Full Al,Si Structural Disorder and Specular Hematite at Maunakea Volcano (Hawai’i) and at Gale Crater (Mars)

1R.V.Morris et al. (>10)
Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets) (in Press) Link to Article []
1NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, USA
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Hydrothermal high sanidine and specular hematite are found within ferric‐rich and grey‐colored cemented basaltic breccia occurring within horizontal, weathering‐resistant strata exposed in an erosional gully of the Pu’u Poliahu cinder cone in the summit region of Maunakea volcano (Hawai’i). The cone was extensively altered by hydrothermal, acid‐sulfate fluids at temperatures up to ~400 °C, and, within strata, plagioclase was removed by dissolution from progenitor Hawaiitic basalt, and sanidine and hematite precipitated. Fe2O3T concentration and Fe3+/∑Fe redox state are ~12 wt. % and ~0.4 for progenitor basalt and 46‐60 wt. % and ~1.0 for cemented breccias, respectively, implying open‐system alteration and oxic precipitation. Hydrothermal high sanidine (adularia) is characterized by full Al,Si structural disorder with monoclinic unit‐cell (Rietveld refinement): a = 8.563(19) Å, b = 13.040(6) Å, c = 7.169(4) Å, β = 116.02(10)° and V = 719.4(19) Å3. Hematite (structure confirmed by Rietveld refinement) is the predominant Fe‐bearing phase detected. Coarse size fractions of powdered hematite‐rich breccia (500–1000 μm) are dark and spectrally neutral at visible wavelengths, confirming specular hematite, and SEM images show platy to polyhedral hematite morphologies with longest dimensions >10 μm. Smectite and a 10‐Å phyllosilicate, both chemically dominated by Mg as octahedral cation, are additional diagenetic hydrothermal alteration products. By analogy and as a working hypothesis, high sanidine (Kimberly formation) and specular hematite (Mt. Sharp group at Hartmann’s Valley and Vera Rubin ridge) at Gale crater are interpreted as diagenetic alteration products of martian basaltic material by hydrothermal processes.