Widespread evidence for high-temperature formation of pentlandite in chondrites

Devin L. Schrader, Jemma Davidson, Timothy J. McCoy

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 16 June 2016


“By investigating the compositional and textural evolution of sulfides within a wide range of relatively pristine, aqueously altered, and thermally metamorphosed chondrites we constrain the equilibration temperatures of sulfide minerals and compare them to the metamorphic history of their host meteorite. Sulfides in Mighei-like carbonaceous chondrites are complex as they equilibrated mostly between 100 and 135°C, but some may have equilibrated at temperatures up to 600°C. This is consistent with some CM chondrite sulfides forming at high temperature during chondrule cooling and others during low-temperature aqueous alteration and/or annealing. Karoonda-like carbonaceous chondrite sulfides equilibrated between 500 and 230°C, which is consistent with formation during cooling and annealing after thermal metamorphism. Sulfides in the LL chondrites equilibrated between 600 and 230°C, and are consistent with formation during chondrule cooling for Semarkona (LL3.00) and during cooling after thermal metamorphism for the equilibrated samples (types 4–6). Sulfides in the Rumuruti-like (R) chondrites equilibrated between 600 and 500°C, and are consistent with formation after thermal metamorphism. The sulfides within the brachinite equilibrated between 600 and 400°C, consistent with formation during cooling after thermal metamorphism.

Contrary to the assertion that pentlandite is solely the product of low-temperature aqueous alteration in many chondrite groups, this study suggests that most sulfides in chondrites are formed at or upon cooling from high-temperature. The evaluation of a single mineral system within samples that retain petrographic context is vital to the interpretation of formation and alteration processes recorded by small extraterrestrial samples, such as those that have been returned by the spacecraft missions Stardust and Hayabusa and will be returned by OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2.”