Formation of Apollo 16 impactites and the composition of late accreted material: constraints from Os isotopes, highly siderophile elements and sulfur abundances

Philipp Gleißner, Harry Becker

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 18 December 2016


“Fe-Ni metal-schreibersite-troilite intergrowths in Apollo 16 impact melt rocks and new highly siderophile element (HSE) and S abundance data indicate that millimeter-scale closed-system fractional crystallization processes during cooling of impactor-derived metal melt droplets in impact-melts are the main reason for compositional variations and strong differences in abundances and ratios of HSE in multiple aliquots from Apollo 16 impact melt rocks. Element ratios obtained from linear regression of such data are therefore prone to error, but weighted averages take into account full element budgets in the samples and thus represent a more accurate estimate of their impactor contributions. Modeling of solid metal-liquid metal partitioning in the Fe-Ni-S-P system and HSE patterns in impactites from different landing sites suggest that bulk compositions of ancient lunar impactites should be representative of impact melt compositions and that large-scale fractionation of the HSE by in situ segregation of solid metal or sulfide liquid in impact melt sheets most likely did not occur. The compositional record of lunar impactites indicates accretion of variable amounts of chondritic and non-chondritic impactor material and the mixing of these components during remelting of earlier ejecta deposits. The non-chondritic composition appears most prominently in some Apollo 16 impactites and is characterized by suprachondritic HSE/Ir ratios which increase from refractory to moderately volatile HSE and exhibit a characteristic enrichment of Ru relative to Pt. Large-scale fractional crystallization of solid metal from sulfur and phosphorous rich metallic melt with high P/S in planetesimal or embryo cores is currently the most likely process that may have produced these compositions. Similar materials or processes may have contributed to the HSE signature of the bulk silicate Earth (BSE).”