Group IVA irons: New constraints on the crystallization and cooling history of an asteroidal core with a complex history

T. J. Mccoy, R. J. Walker, J. I. Goldstein, J. Yang, W. F. McDonough, D. Rumble, N. L. Chabot, R. D. Ash, C. M. Corrigan, J. R. Michael, P. G. Kotula

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72 Citations (Scopus)


We report analyses of 14 group IVA iron meteorites, and the ungrouped but possibly related, Elephant Moraine (EET) 83230, for siderophile elements by laser ablation ICP-MS and isotope dilution. EET was also analyzed for oxygen isotopic composition and metallographic structure, and Fuzzy Creek, currently the IVA with the highest Ni concentration, was analyzed for metallographic structure. Highly siderophile elements (HSE) Re, Os and Ir concentrations vary by nearly three orders of magnitude over the entire range of IVA irons, while Ru, Pt and Pd vary by less than factors of five. Chondrite normalized abundances of HSE form nested patterns consistent with progressive crystal-liquid fractionation. Attempts to collectively model the HSE abundances resulting from fractional crystallization achieved best results for 3. wt.% S, compared to 0.5 or 9. wt.% S. Consistent with prior studies, concentrations of HSE and other refractory siderophile elements estimated for the bulk IVA core and its parent body are in generally chondritic proportions. Projected abundances of Pd and Au, relative to more refractory HSE, are slightly elevated and modestly differ from L/LL chondrites, which some have linked with group IVA, based on oxygen isotope similarities. Abundance trends for the moderately volatile and siderophile element Ga cannot be adequately modeled for any S concentration, the cause of which remains enigmatic. Further, concentrations of some moderately volatile and siderophile elements indicate marked, progressive depletions in the IVA system. However, if the IVA core began crystallization with ∼3. wt.% S, depletions of more volatile elements cannot be explained as a result of prior volatilization/condensation processes. The initial IVA core had an approximately chondritic Ni/Co ratio, but a fractionated Fe/Ni ratio of ∼10, indicates an Fe-depleted core. This composition is most easily accounted for by assuming that the surrounding silicate shell was enriched in iron, consistent with an oxidized parent body. The depletions in Ga may reflect decreased siderophilic behavior in a relatively oxidized body, and more favorable partitioning into the silicate portion of the parent body. Phosphate inclusions in EET show Δ17O values within the range measured for silicates in IVA iron meteorites. EET has a typical ataxitic microstructure with precipitates of kamacite within a matrix of plessite. Chemical and isotopic evidence for a genetic relation between EET and group IVA is strong, but the high Ni content and the newly determined, rapid cooling rate of this meteorite show that it should continue to be classified as ungrouped. Previously reported metallographic cooling rates for IVA iron meteorites have been interpreted to indicate an inwardly crystallizing, ∼150km radius metallic body with little or no silicate mantle. Hence, the IVA group was likely formed as a mass of molten metal separated from a much larger parent body that was broken apart by a large impact. Given the apparent genetic relation with IVA, EET was most likely generated via crystal-liquid fractionation in another, smaller body spawned from the same initial liquid during the impact event that generated the IVA body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6821-6843
Number of pages23
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Nov 15
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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