Siderophile element and Hf-W isotope characteristics of the metal-rich chondrite NWA 12273 – Implication for its origin and chondrite metal formation

Huanxin Liu, Richard D. Ash, Yan Luo, D. Graham Pearson, Jingao Liu

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume 612, 15 June 2023, 118162


“Metal phases in primitive chondrites contain important information for understanding early Solar System processes. Northwest Africa (NWA) 12273 is an ungrouped chondrite and, due to its preternatural high modal abundance of metal grains (>60%), provides a unique perspective on the formation and evolution of primitive planetesimals. To investigate the formation of metal phases in early solar system materials we report detailed petrography, siderophile geochemistry and Hf-W isotope geochronology for NWA 12273. The primitive textures and heterogeneous mineral chemistry of chondrules, as well as siderophile element compositions of Ni-rich metal, all indicate an affinity of NWA 12273 to unequilibrated (type 3.8) ordinary chondrites that experienced limited thermal metamorphism. Modeling shows that crucial inter-element fractionations among refractory siderophile elements for kamacite in NWA 12273, were most likely caused by solid metal-liquid metal partitioning, for example during partial melting of Fe-Ni metal containing ∼3.9 wt.% of S. Analysis of the metal fractions within NWA 12273 gives a Hf-W model age of ∼2.4 Ma after CAI formation (ϵ182W 6/4 = -3.29 ± 0.11), older than metal formation in most of H chondrites and IIE irons. In comparison with published data for chondrites and ‘non-magmatic’ iron meteorites, siderophile element data suggest that the metal phases in NWA 12273 may have originated from similar precursor materials and/or accreted in adjacent nebular locations to IIE irons and H chondrites. These primary planetesimals experienced impact-related evaporation and mixing followed by rebuilding of the secondary body. This scenario is consistent with that proposed for IIE and other silicate-bearing iron meteorites, indicating that the building blocks of some chondrite parent bodies were not entirely primitive (undifferentiated) materials.”