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Journal Article

Composition and clues to the origin of refractory metal nuggets extracted from chondritic meteorites


Ott,  U.
Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Schwander, D., Berg, T., Harries, D., Schönhense, G., & Ott, U. (2014). Composition and clues to the origin of refractory metal nuggets extracted from chondritic meteorites. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 49(10), 1888-1901. doi:10.1111/maps.12366.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0024-B400-C
Refractory metal nuggets (RMNs) contain elements, such as Os, Ir, Mo, and Ru, which are predicted to condense from a cooling gas of solar composition simultaneously with CAI-minerals. Berg etal. () identified a large number of RMNs in acid-resistant residues of the Murchison meteorite and suggested that they are pristine condensates. In extending the work of these authors, we have improved the chemical extraction process to enrich the concentration of RMNs in the residue sample and prepared three additional RMN-rich residues from the chondritic meteorites Murchison, Allende, and Leoville. The results show that, while their origin is clearly solar, the compositions in detail of RMNs from all three meteorites do not match well with a simple condensation model based on equilibrium thermodynamics and ideal solid solution of all metals. Thus, we find that a primary formation by direct condensation, as suggested previously, is unlikely for most of the studied grains and that alternative scenarios should be considered in future work. The results also show that several, but not all, alloys from Allende and Leoville have undergone processes, such as metamorphic oxidation and sulfidization in the meteoritic environment, in which they lost, e.g., W and Mo. For Murchison and several Leoville and Allende RMNs, we propose a pristine nature.