The low-temperature form of CuFe2S3, cubanite, has been identified in the CI chondrite and NASA Stardust mission collections. The presence of this mineral constrains the maximum temperature to 210 °C since the time of its formation. However, until now, the conditions under which cubanite forms were less well constrained. In order to refine the history of the time-varying, low-temperature fluids which existed on the CI-chondrite parent body and Comet 81P/Wild 2 (Wild 2), we synthesized cubanite. The experimental synthesis of this mineral was achieved, for the first time, under low-temperature aqueous conditions relevant to the CI-chondrite parent body. Using a variant of in situ hydrothermal recrystallization, cubanite formed in aqueous experiments starting with temperatures of 150 and 200 °C, pH approximately 9, and oxygen fugacities corresponding to the iron-magnetite buffer. The composition and structure of the cubanite were determined using electron microprobe and transmission electron microscopy techniques, respectively. The combined compositional, crystallographic, and experimental data allow us to place limits on the conditions under which the formation of cubanite is feasible, which in turn constrains the nature of the fluid phase on the CI-chondrite parent body and Wild 2 when cubanite was forming.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Space and Planetary Science