Isotopic evolution of planetary crusts by hypervelocity impacts evidenced by Fe in microtektitesOPEN ACCESS 

S. M. Chernonozhkin, C. González de Vega, N. Artemieva, B. Soens, J. Belza, E. Bolea-Fernandez, M. Van Ginneken, B. P. Glass, L. Folco, M. J. Genge, Ph. Claeys, F. Vanhaecke & S. Goderis

Nature Communications, Volume 12, Article number: 5646 (2021)


“Fractionation effects related to evaporation and condensation had a major impact on the current elemental and isotopic composition of the Solar System. Although isotopic fractionation of moderately volatile elements has been observed in tektites due to impact heating, the exact nature of the processes taking place during hypervelocity impacts remains poorly understood. By studying Fe in microtektites, here we show that impact events do not simply lead to melting, melt expulsion and evaporation, but involve a convoluted sequence of processes including condensation, variable degrees of mixing between isotopically distinct reservoirs and ablative evaporation during atmospheric re-entry. Hypervelocity impacts can as such not only generate isotopically heavy, but also isotopically light ejecta, with δ56/54Fe spanning over nearly 5‰ and likely even larger variations for more volatile elements. The mechanisms demonstrated here for terrestrial impact ejecta modify our understanding of the effects of impact processing on the isotopic evolution of planetary crusts.”