Time and Duration of Chondrule Formation: Constraints from 26Al-26Mg Ages of Individual Chondrules

J. Pape, K. Mezger, A.-S. Bouvier, L.P. Baumgartner

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 24 October 2018


“Chondrules from unequilibrated ordinary and carbonaceous chondrites belong to the oldest and most primitive materials from the early solar system and record chemical and isotopic signatures relating to their formation and evolution. These signatures allow tracing protoplanetary disk processes that eventually led to the formation of planetary building blocks and rocky planets. 26Al-26Mg ages based on mineral-mesostasis isochrons of 31 porphyritic ferromagnesian chondrules, that belong mainly to type-II, constrain the time of chondrule melting prior to incorporation into the respective chondrite parent bodies. For this study chondrules from the unequilibrated L, L(LL) and LL ordinary chondrites (UOCs) NWA 5206, NWA 8276, MET 96503, MET 00452, MET 00526, NWA 7936 and QUE 97008 were selected, which are of petrologic types 3.00 to 3.15 and were thus least metamorphosed after formation. Magnesium and Al isotopes were measured in-situ by Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) using a CAMECA 1280 ims. 26Mg excess from in-situ decay of 26Al correlating with 27Al/24Mg has been detected in the mesostasis of all but one chondrule. The initial Al isotopic compositions (26Al/27Al)0 and 26Mg/24Mg ratios (δ26Mg∗0) deduced from internal mineral isochron regressions range from (9.5 ± 2.8) × 10-6 to (3.1 ± 1.2) × 10-6 and -0.020 ± 0.028‰ to 0.011 ± 0.039‰, respectively. The corresponding chondrule ages (ΔtCAI), calculated relative to calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) using the canonical 26Al/27Al = (5.23 ± 0.13) × 10-5, are between 1.76 (+0.36/-0.27) Ma and 2.92 (+0.51/-0.34) Ma and date the melt formation and thus primary chondrule formation from dust-like precursors or reprocessing of older chondrules. The age range agrees with those acquired with different short-lived chronometers and with published 26Al-26Mg ages, the majority of which were obtained for chondrules from the Bishunpur and Semarkona meteorites, although no chondrule with (26Al/27Al)0 > 10-5 was found.

Chondrules in single chondrite samples or between different chondrite groups show no distinct age distributions. The initial 26Al/27Al of the oldest chondrules in the L(LL)/LL and L chondrite samples are identical within their 1σ uncertainties and yield a mean age of 1.99 (+0.08/-0.08) Ma and 1.81 (+0.11/-0.10) Ma, respectively. The oldest chondrules from six of the seven studied samples record a mean age of 1.94 (+0.07/-0.06) Ma. Since heating events in the protoplanetary disk could have partially reset the Al-Mg systematics in pre-existing chondrules and this would have shifted recorded 26Al-26Mg ages toward younger dates, the oldest mean age of 1.81 (+0.11/-0.10) Ma recorded in L chondrite chondrules is interpreted to date the rapid and punctuated onset of chondrule formation. The density distribution of chondrule ages from this study, which comprises the largest single dataset of OC chondrule ages, combined with published ages for chondrules from ordinary and carbonaceous chondrites reveals major age peaks for OC chondrules at 2.0 and 2.3 Ma. Chondrules in ordinary and carbonaceous chondrites formed almost contemporaneously (with a possible distinction between CC groups) in two chemically distinct reservoirs, probably in density-enriched regions at the edges of Jupiter’s orbit. The young formation ages of chondrules suggest that they do not represent precursors but rather by-products of planetesimal accretion.”