Oxygen isotopes in the early protoplanetary disk inferred from pyroxene in a classical type B CAI

Jérôme Aléon

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume 440, 15 April 2016, Pages 62–70


“A major unanswered question in solar system formation is the origin of the oxygen isotopic dichotomy between the Sun and the planets. Individual Calcium–Aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) from CV chondrites exhibit almost the full isotopic range, but how their composition evolved is still unclear, which prevents robust astrochemical conclusions. A key issue is notably the yet unsolved origin of the 16O-rich isotopic composition of pyroxene in type B CAIs. Here, I report an in-situ oxygen isotope study of the archetypal type B CAI USNM-3529-Z from Allende with emphasis on the isotopic composition of pyroxene and its isotopic and petrographic relationships with other major minerals. The O isotopic composition of pyroxene is correlated with indicators of magmatic growth, indicating that the pyroxene evolved from a 16O-poor composition and became progressively enriched in 16O during its crystallization, contrary to the long held assumption that pyroxene was initially 16O-rich. This variation is well explained by isotopic exchange between a 16O-poor partial melt having the isotopic composition of melilite and a 16O-rich gas having the isotopic composition of spinel, during pyroxene crystallization.

The isotopic evolution of 3529-Z is consistent with formation in an initially 16O-rich environment where spinel and gehlenitic melilite crystallized, followed by a 16O-depletion associated with melilite partial melting and recrystallization and finally a return to the initial 16O-rich environment before pyroxene crystallization. This strongly suggests that the environment of CAI formation was globally 16O-rich, with local 16O-depletions systematically associated with high temperature events. The Al/Mg isotopic systematics of 3529-Z further indicates that this suite of isotopic changes occurred in the first 150 000 yr of the solar system, during the main CAI formation period. A new astrophysical setting is proposed, where the 16O-depletion occurs in an optically thin surface layer of the disk and may have originated by evaporation of 16O-poor interstellar dust or non-mass-dependant isotopic fractionation.”