Evidence for high-temperature fractionation of lithium isotopes during differentiation of the Moon.
Day, J. M. D., Qiu, L., Ash, R. D., McDonough, W. F., Teng, F.-Z., Rudnick, R. L. and Taylor, L. A.
Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12643
“Lithium isotope and abundance data are reported for Apollo 15 and 17 mare basalts and the LaPaz low-Ti mare basalt meteorites, along with lithium isotope data for carbonaceous, ordinary, and enstatite chondrites, and chondrules from the Allende CV3 meteorite. Apollo 15 low-Ti mare basalts have lower Li contents and lower δ7Li (3.8 ± 1.2‰; all uncertainties are 2 standard deviations) than Apollo 17 high-Ti mare basalts (δ7Li = 5.2 ± 1.2‰), with evolved LaPaz mare basalts having high Li contents, but similar low δ7Li (3.7 ± 0.5‰) to Apollo 15 mare basalts. In low-Ti mare basalt 15555, the highest concentrations of Li occur in late-stage tridymite (>20 ppm) and plagioclase (11 ± 3 ppm), with olivine (6.1 ± 3.8 ppm), pyroxene (4.2 ± 1.6 ppm), and ilmenite (0.8 ± 0.7 ppm) having lower Li concentrations. Values of δ7Li in low- and high-Ti mare basalt sources broadly correlate negatively with 18O/16O and positively with 56Fe/54Fe (low-Ti: δ7Li ≤4‰; δ56Fe ≤0.04‰; δ18O ≥5.7‰; high-Ti: δ7Li >6‰; δ56Fe >0.18‰; δ18O <5.4‰). Lithium does not appear to have acted as a volatile element during planetary formation, with subequal Li contents in mare basalts compared with terrestrial, martian, or vestan basaltic rocks. Observed Li isotopic fractionations in mare basalts can potentially be explained through large-degree, high-temperature igneous differentiation of their source regions. Progressive magma ocean crystallization led to enrichment in Li and δ7Li in late-stage liquids, probably as a consequence of preferential retention of 7Li and Li in the melt relative to crystallizing solids. Lithium isotopic fractionation has not been observed during extensive differentiation in terrestrial magmatic systems and may only be recognizable during extensive planetary magmatic differentiation under volatile-poor conditions, as expected for the lunar magma ocean. Our new analyses of chondrites show that they have δ7Li ranging between −2.5‰ and 4‰. The higher δ7Li in planetary basalts than in the compilation of chondrites (2.1 ± 1.3‰) demonstrates that differentiated planetary basalts are, on average, isotopically heavier than most chondrites."