A new type of isotopic anomaly in shergottite sulfides

Heather B. Franz, Nanping Wu, James Farquhar, Anthony J. Irving

Meteoritics & Planetary Science


“The isotopic composition and abundance of sulfur in extraterrestrial materials are of interest for constraining models of both planetary and solar system evolution. A previous study that included phase‐specific extraction of sulfur from 27 shergottites found the sulfur isotopic composition of the Martian mantle to be similar to that of terrestrial mid‐ocean ridge basalts, the Moon, and nonmagmatic iron meteorites. However, the presence of positive Δ33S anomalies in igneous sulfides from several shergottites, indicating incorporation of atmospherically processed sulfur into the subsurface, complicated this interpretation. The current study expands upon the previous work through analyses of 20 additional shergottites, enabling tighter constraints on the isotopic composition of juvenile Martian sulfur. The updated composition (δ34S = −0.24 ± 0.05‰, Δ33S = 0.0015 ± 0.0016‰, and Δ36S = 0.039 ± 0.054‰, 2 s.e.m.), representing the weighted mean for all shergottites within the combined population of 47 without significant Δ33S anomalies, strengthens our earlier result. The presence of sulfur isotopic anomalies in igneous sulfides of some meteorites suggests that their parent magmas may have assimilated crustal material. We observed small negative Δ33S anomalies in sulfides from two meteorites, NWA 7635 and NWA 11300. Although negative Δ33S anomalies have been observed in nakhlites and ALH 84001, previous anomalies in shergottites have all shown positive values of Δ33S. Because NWA 7635 has formation age of 2.4 Ga and is much more ancient than shergottites analyzed previously, this finding expands our perspective on the continuity of Martian atmospheric sulfur photochemistry over geologic time.”