Three-dimensional observation of GEMS grains: Their high-temperature condensation origin

Junya MATSUNO, Akira TSUCHIYAMA, Akira MIYAKE, Keiko NAKAMURA-MESSENGER, Scott MESSENGER

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Available online 5 January 2022

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“Highlights

• Three dimensional observations on GEMS grains in CP-IDPs by TEM-tomography.
• High textual similarity with products of condensation experiments (core-shell particles and Mg/Si binary distributions).
• We concluded GEMS grains are condensates.”

“GEMS (Glass with Embedded Metal and Sulfides) grains found in interplanetary dust particles are considered one of the most primitive materials in the Solar System, yet questions remain on how they formed. It has been suggested that GEMS grains are products of radiation processing and amorphization of sulfide and silicate mineral grains in the interstellar medium. Alternatively, GEMS grains are proposed to be disequilibrium condensation products in late-stage protosolar disks. We examined the 3D distributions of elements and inclusions within GEMS grains using TEM (transmission electron microscopic)-tomography to better constrain their possible formation processes. We found some core-shell particles composed of metals and amorphous silicates and observed a binary distribution of Mg/Si in amorphous silicates of GEMS grains. These properties are highly similar to the features of experimental condensation products. Furthermore, the location of sulfides only on the surface of GEMS and their larger sizes than metals are also consistent with the condensation experiments, where sulfides formed by sulfidation of metal grains with S-bearing gas species. Textures showing aggregation and possible coalescence of primary grains were also observed. Therefore, we conclude that GEMS grains are condensates from gas at high temperatures and some of them were aggregated.”