The selenium isotopic variations in chondrites are mass-dependent; Implications for sulfide formation in the early solar system

J. Labidi, S. König, T. Kurzawa, A. Yierpan, R. Schoenberg

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume 481, 1 January 2018, Pages 212–222



• Significant δ82/78Se variations are recorded in chondrites.
• The Se isotopic variations are mass dependent within uncertainty.
• Variable kinetics of sulfide formation in the early Solar system.”

“Element transfer from the solar nebular gas to solids occurred either through direct condensation or via heterogeneous reactions between gaseous molecules and previously condensed solid matter. The precursors of altered sulfides observed in chondrites are for example attributed to reactions between gaseous hydrogen sulfide and metallic iron grains. The transfer of selenium to solids likely occurred through a similar pathway, allowing the formation of iron selenides concomitantly with sulfides. The formation rate of sulfide however remains difficult to assess. Here we investigate whether the Se isotopic composition of meteorites contributes to constrain sulfide formation during condensation stages of our solar system. We present high precision Se concentration and δ82/78Se data for 23 chondrites as well as the first δ74/78Se, δ76/78Se and δ77/78Se data for a sub-set of seven chondrites. We combine our dataset with previously published sulfur isotopic data and discuss aspects of sulfide formation for various types of chondrites.

Our Se concentration data are within uncertainty to literature values and are consistent with sulfides being the dominant selenium host in chondrites. Our overall average δ82/78Se value for chondrites is −0.21±0.43‰ (n=23n=23, 2 s.d.), or −0.14±0.21‰ after exclusion of three weathered chondrites (n=20n=20, 2 s.d.). These average values are within uncertainty indistinguishable from a previously published estimate. For the first time however, we resolve distinct δ82/78Se between ordinary (−0.14±0.07‰, n=9n=9, 2 s.d.), enstatite (−0.27±0.05‰, n=3n=3, 2 s.d.) and CI carbonaceous chondrites (−0.01±0.06‰, n=2n=2, 2 s.d.). We also resolve a Se isotopic variability among CM carbonaceous chondrites. In addition, we report on δ74/78Se, δ76/78Se and δ77/78Se values determined for 7 chondrites. Our data allow evaluating the mass dependency of the δ82/78Se variations. Mass-independent deficits ro excesses of 74Se, 76Se and 77Se are calculated relative to the observed 82Se/78Se ratios, and were observed negligible. This rules out poor mixing of nucleosynthetic components to account for the δ82/78Se variability and implies that the mass dependent Se isotopic variations were produced in a once-homogeneous disk.

The mass-dependent isotopic difference between enstatite and ordinary chondrites may reflect the contribution of a kinetic sulfidation process at anomalously high H2S–H2Se contents in the region of enstatite chondrite formation. Experimental studies showed that high H2S contents favor the formation of compact sulfide layers around metallic grains. This decreases the reactive surface, which tends to inhibit the continuation of the sulfidation reaction. Under these conditions sulfide growth likely occurs under isotopic disequilibrium and favors the trapping of light S and Se isotopes in solids; This hypothesis provides an explanation for our Se isotope as well as for previously published S isotope data. On the other hand, high δ82/78Se values in carbonaceous chondrites may result from sample heterogeneities generated by parent body aqueous alteration, or could reflect the contribution of ices carrying photo-processed Se from the outer solar system.”