The iron-nickel-phosphorus system: Effects on the distribution of trace elements during the evolution of iron meteorites

Catherine M. Corrigan, Nancy L. Chabot, Timothy J. McCoy, William F. McDonough, Heather C. Watson, Sarah A. Saslow, Richard D. Ash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


To better understand the partitioning behavior of elements during the formation and evolution of iron meteorites, two sets of experiments were conducted at 1 atm in the Fe-Ni-P system. The first set examined the effect of P on solid metal/liquid metal partitioning behavior of 22 elements, while the other set explored the effect of the crystal structures of body-centered cubic (α)- and face-centered cubic (γ)-solid Fe alloys on partitioning behavior. Overall, the effect of P on the partition coefficients for the majority of the elements was minimal. As, Au, Ga, Ge, Ir, Os, Pt, Re, and Sb showed slightly increasing partition coefficients with increasing P-content of the metallic liquid. Co, Cu, Pd, and Sn showed constant partition coefficients. Rh, Ru, W, and Mo showed phosphorophile (P-loving) tendencies. Parameterization models were applied to solid metal/liquid metal results for 12 elements. As, Au, Pt, and Re failed to match previous parameterization models, requiring the determination of separate parameters for the Fe-Ni-S and Fe-Ni-P systems. Experiments with coexisting α and γ Fe alloy solids produced partitioning ratios close to unity, indicating that an α versus γ Fe alloy crystal structure has only a minor influence on the partitioning behaviors of the trace element studied. A simple relationship between an element's natural crystal structure and its α/γ partitioning ratio was not observed. If an iron meteorite crystallizes from a single metallic liquid that contains both S and P, the effect of P on the distribution of elements between the crystallizing solids and the residual liquid will be minor in comparison to the effect of S. This indicates that to a first order, fractional crystallization models of the Fe-Ni-S-P system that do not take into account P are appropriate for interpreting the evolution of iron meteorites if the effects of S are appropriately included in the effort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2674-2691
Number of pages18
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2009 May 1


Dive into the research topics of 'The iron-nickel-phosphorus system: Effects on the distribution of trace elements during the evolution of iron meteorites'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this