An investigation of the behavior of Cu and Cr during iron meteorite crystallization

Nancy L. Chabot, Sarah A. Saslow, William F. McDonough, John H. Jones

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34 Citations (Scopus)


The measured Cu and Cr contents in magmatic iron meteorites appear to contradict the behavior predicted by experimental fractional crystallization studies currently available. To investigate the origin of Cu and Cr concentrations observed in these meteorites, a thorough set of solid metal/liquid metal experiments were conducted in the Fe Ni S system. In addition to Cu and Cr, partitioning values were also determined for As, Au, Bi, Co, Mo, Ni, Pb, Rh, Ru, Sb, Sn, Y, and Zn from the experiments. Experimental results for Cu and Cr showed similar chalcophile partitioning behavior, whereas these elements have differently sloped trends within magmatic iron meteorite groups. Thus, fractional crystallization alone cannot control both the Cu and Cr concentrations in these iron meteorite groups. A simple fractional crystallization model based on our experimental Cu partitioning results was able to match the Cu versus Au trend observed in the S poor IVB iron meteorite group but not the decreasing Cu versus Au trends in the IIAB and IIIAB groups or the unique S shaped Cu versus Au trend in the IVA group. However, the crystallization model calculations were found to be very sensitive to the specific choice for the mathematical expression of D(Cu), suggesting that any future refinement of the parameterization of D(Cu) should include a reassessment of the Cu fractional crystallization trends. The Cr versus Au trends in magmatic iron meteorite groups are steeper than those of Cu and not explained by fractional crystallization. Other influences, such as the removal of chromite from the crystallizing system or sampling biases during iron meteorite compositional analyses, are likely responsible for the Cr trends in magmatic iron meteorite groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-519
Number of pages15
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Apr


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