Chemical Evidence for Differentiation, Evaporation and Recondensation from Silicate Clasts in Gujba

Jonathan Oulton, Munir Humayun, Alexei Fedkin, Lawrence Grossman

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 23 January 2016

updated (25 Feb.) : PDF (OPEN ACCESS)


“The silicate and metal clasts in CB chondrites have been inferred to form as condensates from an impact-generated vapor plume between a metal-rich body and a silicate body. A detailed study of the condensation of impact-generated vapor plumes showed that the range of CB silicate clast compositions could not be successfully explained without invoking a chemically differentiated target. Here, we report the most comprehensive elemental study yet performed on CB silicates with 32 silicate clasts from nine slices of Gujba analyzed by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for 53 elements. Like in other studies of CBs, the silicate clasts are either barred olivine (BO) or cryptocrystalline (CC) in texture. In major elements, the Gujba silicate clasts ranged from chondritic to refractory enriched. Refractory element abundances ranged from 2-10xCI, with notable anomalies in Ba, Ce, Eu, and U abundances. The two most refractory-enriched BO clasts exhibited negative Ce anomalies and were depleted in U relative to Th, characteristic of volatilization residues, while other BO clasts and the CC clasts exhibited positive Ce anomalies with excess U (1-3xCI), and Ba (1-6xCI) anomalies indicating re-condensation of ultra-refractory element depleted vapor. The Rare Earth Elements (REE) also exhibit light REE (LREE) enrichment or depletion in several clasts with a range of (La/Sm)CI of 0.9-1.8. This variation in the LREE is essentially impossible to accomplish by processes involving vapor-liquid or vapor-solid exchange of REE, and appears to have been inherited from a differentiated target. The most distinctive evidence for inherited chemical differentiation is observed in highly refractory element (Sc, Zr, Nb, Hf, Ta, Th) systematics. The Gujba clasts exhibit fractionations in Nb/Ta that correlate positively with Zr/Hf and span the range known from lunar and Martian basalts, and exceed the range in Zr/Hf variation known from eucrites. Variations of highly incompatible refractory elements (e.g. Th) against less incompatible elements (e.g., Zr, Sr, Sc) are not chondritic, but exhibit distinctly higher Th abundances requiring a differentiated crust to be admixed with depleted mantle in ratios that are biased to higher crust/mantle ratios than in a chondritic body. The possibility that these variations are due to admixture of refractory inclusion-debris into normal chondritic matter is raised but cannot be definitively tested because existing “bulk” analyses of CAIs carry artifacts of unrepresentative sampling. The inferences drawn from the compositions of Gujba silicate clasts, here, complement what has been inferred from the compositions of metallic clasts, but provide surprisingly detailed insight into the structure of the target. Evidence that metal and silicate in CB chondrites both formed from impact-generated vapor plumes, taken together with recent work on metallic nodules in E chondrites, and on ordinary chondrites, indicates that chondrule formation occurs by this mechanism quite widely. However, the nature of the impact on the CB body is quite different than the popular conceptions of impact of partially or wholly molten chondritic bodies and the younger (5 Ma) age of CB chondrules is consistent with origin in a disk with more evolved targets and impactors gravitationally perturbed by nascent planets.”