Light noble gases in 11 achondrites: Cosmic ray exposure ages, gas retention ages, and preatmospheric sizes

Thomas Smith, Huaiyu He, Shijie Li, Fei Su

MAPS, Version of Record online: 18 October 2023


“We report light noble gas (He, Ne, and Ar) concentrations and isotopic ratios in 11 achondrites, Tafassasset (unclassified primitive achondrite), Northwest Africa (NWA) 12934 (angrite), NWA 12573 (brachinite), Jiddat al Harasis (JaH) 809 (ureilite), NWA 11562 (ungrouped achondrite), four lodranites (NWA 11901, NWA 7474, NWA 6685, and NWA 6484), NWA 2871 (acapulcoite), and Sahara 02029 (winonaite), most of which have not been previously studied for noble gases. We discuss their noble gas isotopic composition, determine their cosmogenic nuclide content, and systematically calculate their cosmic ray exposure (CRE) and gas retention ages. In addition, we estimate their preatmospheric radii and preatmospheric masses based on the shielding parameter (22Ne/21Ne)cos. None of the studied meteorites shows evidence of contribution from solar cosmic rays (SCRs). JaH 809 and NWA 12934 show evidence of 3He diffusive losses of >90% and 40%, respectively. The winonaite Sahara 02029 has lost most of its noble gases, either during or before analysis. The average CRE age of Tafassasset of ~49 Ma is lower than that reported by Patzer et al. (2003), but is consistent with it within the uncertainties; this confirms that Tafassasset and CR chondrites are not source paired, CR chondrites having CRE ages from 1 to 25 Ma (Herzog & Caffee, 2014). The ureilite JaH 809 has a CRE age of ~5.4 Ma, which falls into the typical range of exposure ages for ureilites; the angrite NWA 12934 has a CRE age of ~49 Ma, which is within the main range of exposure ages reported for angrites (0.2–56 Ma). We calculate a CRE age of ~2.4 Ma for the brachinite NWA 12573, which falls into a possible “cluster” in the brachinite CRE age histogram around ~3 Ma. Three lodranites (NWA 11901, NWA 7474, and NWA 6685) have CRE ages higher than the average CRE ages of lodranites measured so far, NWA 11901 and NWA 6685 having CRE ages far higher than the CRE age already reported by Li et al. (2019) on NWA 8118. The measured 40K-40Ar gas retention ages fit well into established systematics. The gas retention age of Tafassasset is consistent, within respective uncertainties, with that previously calculated by Patzer et al. (2003). Our study indicates that Tafassasset originates from a meteoroid with a preatmospheric radius of ~20 cm, however discordant with the radius of ~85 cm inferred in a previous study (Patzer et al., 2003).”