Sr-Nd-Pb isotope systematics of Australasian tektites: Implications for the nature and composition of target materials and possible volatile loss of Pb

Lukáš Ackerman, Karel Žák, Roman Skála, Jan Rejšek, Šárka Křížová, Josh Wimpenny, Tomáš Magna

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta


“The Australasian tektite (AAT) strewn field is the largest strewn field on the Earth with about ∼10–30% coverage, both land and ocean, but a clearly identified source impact crater is absent despite the young age of AAT of ca. 790 ka. A genetic link between the Australasian tektites and their unequivocal parental materials is therefore largely impossible to establish. Nevertheless, the nature of the parental materials and the extent of volatilization can be constrained using the splash form tektites, carrying the chemical signatures of high-temperature processes, and the layered (so-called Muong Nong-type) tektites, which are less chemically homogenized and exceptionally abundant in the AAT field. New high-precision Sr, Nd and Pb isotopic measurements were obtained for a chemically and petrographically well-characterized suite of AAT, which included the Muong Nong-type (MN-AAT) with precisely known field locations in Laos and splash forms (SF-AAT) from different parts of the strewn field. In addition, optically dark and light zones of the MN-AAT were also separately analyzed. Homogeneous εNd values from −11.8 to −11.2, combined with a narrow range of two-stage Nd model ages from 1.67 to 1.72 Ga for the entire AAT suite, point to a well-mixed source, in terms of REE, of the crustal segment from which the sedimentary material for tektites was ultimately derived. The Sr isotopic data largely overlap for SF-AAT and MN-AAT (87Sr/86Sr = 0.71636–0.72021) and indicate Paleozoic to Mesozoic sedimentary parentage. However, late Neogene to early Quaternary re-deposition and formation of a thick silt-sized sedimentary section with vertical stratification is required to comply with 10Be data. Lead isotope systematics documents at least three different components which can perhaps be represented by different mineral phases, such as feldspar, zircon, organic matter adsorbed on young sediments etc., sorted during fluvial transport and final deposition. In addition, the SF-AAT have systematically lower Pb contents than the MN-AAT, and generally show isotopically heavier Pb isotopic ratios. This is theoretically consistent with a preferential volatilization of lighter Pb isotopes during evaporation and considerably larger Pb loss from SF-AAT when compared to MN-AAT. Nevertheless, further experimental work would be necessary to unambiguously distinguish kinetic fractionation from source mixing.”