Nickel-rich, volatile depleted iron meteorites: Relationships and formation processes

C.M. Corrigan, K. Nagashima, C. Hilton, T.J. McCoy, R.D. Ash, H.A. Tornabene, R.J. Walker, W.F. McDonough, D. Rumble

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume 333, 15 September 2022, Pages 1-21


“Ungrouped iron meteorites Tishomingo, Willow Grove, and Chinga, and group IVB iron meteorites, are Ni-rich. Similarities include enrichments of 10–100 × CI for some refractory siderophile elements, and equivalent depletions in more volatile siderophile elements. Superimposed on the overall enrichment/depletion trend, certain siderophile elements (P, W, Fe, Mo) are depleted relative to elements of similar volatility. All three ungrouped irons derive from parent bodies formed in the early Solar System. Willow Grove and Chinga are characterized by cosmic ray exposure corrected 182W/184W consistent with metal-silicate segregation on their parent bodies within 1–3 Myr of Solar System formation, within the age range determined for segregation of magmatic iron meteorite parent bodies, including group IVB irons. Tishomingo is characterized by a younger model age 4–5 Myr subsequent to Solar System formation, reflecting either late stage melting resulting from 26Al decay, or an impact resetting. The discovery of stishovite in Tishomingo, indicating exposure to a minimum shock pressure of 8–9 GPa, is consistent with the latter.

Stishovite in Tishomingo and chromite included in troilite-daubréelite in IVB irons allows oxygen isotopic composition comparison between these meteorites. Different mass independent oxygen isotopic compositions of IVB irons and Tishomingo indicate genetically distinct parent bodies. By contrast, mass independent Mo isotopic compositions overlap within analytical uncertainties, indicating a similar, carbonaceous chondrite (CC) type genetic heritage. Molybdenum and 183W isotopic data for Chinga and Willow Grove indicate derivation from CC type parent bodies. Willow Grove shares Mo and 183W isotopic compositions with the Ni-rich South Byron Trio (SBT) grouplet and the Milton pallasite. These Ni-rich meteorites likely formed in the same general nebular environment as other CC planetesimals, likely the outer Solar System.

Highly siderophile element (HSE) abundances of Willow Grove and Tishomingo are similar to some IVB meteorites, consistent with formation by moderate degrees of fractional crystallization from initial metallic melts with low S and P, and modestly fractionated HSE. The comparable HSE abundances of Tishomingo and Willow Grove to some IVB irons, yet substantially higher Ni concentrations, indicate formation on parent bodies with lower bulk HSE abundances or HSE concentration in proportionally smaller volumes of metal. HSE abundances in Chinga are considerably lower than in IVB irons, highly fractionated, and processes responsible for these remain elusive.

For IVB irons and these ungrouped irons, high temperature condensation likely dominated the enrichment and depletion of the refractory and volatile siderophile elements, respectively. Parent body degassing may have also played a role. Relative depletion of volatile siderophile elements is not, however, a universal feature of high-Ni meteorites. The SBT and Milton pallasite are Ni-rich, but less depleted in the more volatile siderophile elements. Nickel enrichment was likely driven by oxidation of Fe metal during parent body accretion or core segregation. Oxidation of the Tishomingo and Willow Grove parent bodies may have occurred at ∼ IW + 1, indicated by relative Mo and W depletions due to metal/water reaction during differentiation. Late-stage reduction, indicated by the presence of Cr-bearing sulfides in Tishomingo and IVB irons, may have resulted from exhaustion of the oxidant.”