Early metal-silicate differentiation during planetesimal formation revealed by acapulcoite and lodranite meteorites

Jasmeet K. Dhaliwal, James M.D. Day, Christopher A. Corder, Kim T. Tait, Kurt Marti, Nelly Assayag, Pierre Cartigny, Doug Rumble III, Lawrence A. Taylor

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 8 July 2017

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“In order to establish the role and expression of silicate-metal fractionation in early planetesimal bodies, we have conducted a highly siderophile element (HSE: Os, Ir, Ru, Pt, Pd, Re) abundance and 187Re-187Os study of acapulcoite-lodranite meteorites. These data are reported with new petrography, mineral chemistry, bulk-rock major and trace element geochemistry, and oxygen isotopes for Acapulco, Allan Hills (ALHA) 81187, Meteorite Hills (MET) 01195, Northwest Africa (NWA) 2871, NWA 4833, NWA 4875, NWA 7474 and two examples of transitional acapulcoite-lodranites, Elephant Moraine (EET) 84302 and Graves Nunataks (GRA) 95209. These data support previous studies that indicated these meteorites are linked to the same parent body and exhibit limited degrees (<2 to 7%) of silicate melt removal. New HSE and osmium isotope data demonstrate broadly chondritic relative and absolute abundances of these elements in acapulcoites, lower absolute abundances in lodranites and elevated (>2 × CI chondrite) HSE abundances in transitional acapulcoite-lodranite meteorites (EET 84302, GRA 95209). All of the meteorites have chondritic Re/Os with measured 187Os/188Os ratios of 0.1271 ± 0.0040 (2 St. Dev.). These geochemical characteristics imply that the precursor material of the acapulcoites and lodranites was broadly chondritic in composition, and were then heated and subject to melting of metal and sulfide in the Fe-Ni-S system. This resulted in metallic melt removal and accumulation to form lodranites and transitional acapulcoite-lodranites. There is considerable variation in the absolute abundances of the HSE, both among samples and between aliquots of the same sample, consistent with both inhomogeneous distribution of HSE-rich metal, and of heterogeneous melting and incomplete mixing of silicate material within the acapulcoite-lodranite parent body. Oxygen isotope data for acapulcoite-lodranites are also consistent with inhomogeneous melting and mixing of accreted components from different nebular sources, and do not form a well-defined mass-dependent fractionation line. Modeling of HSE inter-element fractionation suggests a continuum of melting in the Fe-Ni-S system and partitioning between solid metal and sulfur-bearing mineral melt, where lower S contents in the melt resulted in lower Pt/Os and Pd/Os ratios, as observed in lodranites. The transitional meteorites, EET 84302 and GRA 95209, exhibit the most elevated HSE abundances and do not follow modelled Pt/Os and Pd/Os solid metal-liquid metal partitioning trends. We interpret this to reflect metal melt pooling into domains that were sampled by these meteorites, suggesting that they may originate from deeper within the acapulcoite-lodranite parent body, perhaps close to a pooled metallic ‘core’ region. Petrographic examination of transitional samples reveals the most extensive melting, pooling and networking of metal among the acapulcoite-lodranite meteorites. Overall, our results show that solid metal-liquid metal partitioning in the Fe-Ni-S system in primitive achondrites follows a predictable sequence of limited partial melting and metal melt pooling that can lead to significant HSE inter-element fractionation effects in proto-planetary materials.”