Experimental evidence for the absence of iron isotope fractionation between metal and silicate liquids at 1 GPa and 1250-1300 degrees C and its cosmochemical consequences

Remco C. Hin*, Max W. Schmidt, Bernard Bourdon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Iron isotope fractionation during metal-silicate differentiation has been proposed as a cause for differences in iron isotope compositions of chondrites, iron meteorites and the bulk silicate Earth. Stable isotope fractionation, however, rapidly decreases with increasing temperature. We have thus performed liquid metal-liquid silicate equilibration experiments at 1250-1300 degrees C and 1 GPa to address whether Fe isotope fractionation is resolvable at the lowest possible temperatures for magmatic metal-silicate differentiation. A centrifuging piston cylinder apparatus enabled quantitative metal-silicate segregation. Elemental tin or sulphur was used in the synthetic metal-oxide mixtures to lower the melting temperature of the metal. The analyses demonstrate that eight of the 10 experimental systems equilibrated in a closed isotopic system, as was assessed by varying run durations and starting Fe isotope compositions. Statistically significant iron isotope fractionation between quenched metals and silicates was absent in nine of the 10 experiments and all 10 experiments yield an average metal-silicate fractionation factor of 0.01 +/- 0.04 parts per thousand, independent of whether graphite or silica glass capsules were used. This implies that Fe isotopes do not fractionate during low pressure metal-silicate segregation under magmatic conditions. In large bodies such as the Earth, fractionation between metal and high pressure (>20 GPa) silicate phases may still be a possible process for equilibrium fractionation during metal-silicate differentiation. However, the 0.07 +/- 0.02 parts per thousand heavier composition of bulk magmatic iron meteorites relative to the average of bulk ordinary/carbonaceous chondrites cannot result from equilibrium Fe isotope fractionation during core segregation. The up to 0.5 parts per thousand lighter sulphide than metal fraction in iron meteorites and in one ordinary chondrite can only be explained by fractionation during subsolidus processes. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-181
Number of pages18
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume93
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2012

Keywords

  • CORE FORMATION
  • EXPERIMENTAL CALIBRATION
  • MOSSBAUER-SPECTROSCOPY
  • TERRESTRIAL PLANETS
  • OXYGEN FUGACITY
  • FE ISOTOPES
  • EARTHS CORE
  • MANTLE
  • ACCRETION
  • SEGREGATION

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