Characterizing cosmochemical materials with genetic affinities to the Earth: Genetic and chronological diversity within the IAB iron meteorite complex

Emily A. Worsham, Katherine R. Bermingham, Richard J. Walker

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
In Press, Corrected Proof
Available online 11 April 2017


• Some IAB subgroups are the closest genetic relations to the precursors of Earth.
• The IAB complex of iron meteorites samples at least three parent bodies.
• IAB meteorites record at least three separate metal-silicate segregation events.
• Internal and external heat sources were responsible for IAB complex metallic melts.
• Iron meteorites with large Mo isotopic anomalies exhibit r-process excesses.”

“The IAB iron meteorite complex consists of a main group (MG) and five chemical subgroups (sLL, sLM, sLH, sHL, and sHH). Here, mass-independent Mo and radiogenic 182W isotope compositions are reported for IAB complex meteorites to evaluate the genetics and chronology, respectively, of the MG and subgroups. Osmium isotopes are used to correct for cosmic ray exposure effects on isotopes of Mo and W. The MG and three subgroups (i.e., sLL, sLM, and sLH), characterized by low Au abundances, have the same Mo isotopic compositions within analytical uncertainty, consistent with a common genetic origin. These meteorites, together with winonaites, are the only cosmochemical materials yet identified with Mo isotopic compositions that are identical to Earth. The Mo isotopic compositions of two subgroups characterized by higher Au abundances (sHL and sHH) are identical to one another within uncertainty, but differ from the low Au subgroups, indicating derivation from genetically distinct materials.

The MG has a 182W, post calcium–aluminum inclusion (CAI) formation model age of 3.4±0.73.4±0.7 Ma. One of the low Au subgroups (sLM) is ∼1.7 Ma younger, whereas the high Au subgroups are ∼1.5–3 Ma older. The new Mo–W data, coupled with chemical data, indicate that the MG and the low Au subgroups formed in different impact-generated melts, some of which evidently formed on a chemically disparate, but genetically identical parent body. The high Au subgroups likely formed via core-formation processes on separate, internally-heated parent bodies from other IAB subgroups. The IAB complex meteorites fall on a linear trend defined by 94Mo/96Mo vs. 95Mo/96Mo, along with most other iron meteorite groups. Variation along this line was caused by mixing between at least two nebular components. One component was likely a pure s-process enriched nucleosynthetic carrier, and the other a homogenized nebular component. Sombrerete, currently classified as an sHL iron, has a Mo isotopic composition that is distinct from all IAB complex meteorites analyzed here. Along with group IVB iron meteorites and some ungrouped iron meteorites, it falls on a separate line from other meteorites which may reflect addition of an r-process-enriched component, and it should no longer be classified as a IAB iron.”