The Fe/S ratio of pyrrhotite group sulfides in chondrites: An indicator of oxidation and implications for return samples from asteroids Ryugu and Bennu

Devin L. Schrader, Jemma Davidson, Timothy J. McCoy, Thomas J. Zega, Sara S. Russell, Kenneth J. Domanik, Ashley J. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Determining compositional trends among individual minerals is key to understanding the thermodynamic conditions under which they formed and altered, and is also essential to maximizing the scientific value of small extraterrestrial samples, including returned samples and meteorites. Here we report the chemical compositions of Fe-sulfides, focusing on the pyrrhotite-group sulfides, which are ubiquitous in chondrites and are sensitive indicators of formation and alteration conditions in the protoplanetary disk and in small Solar System bodies. Our data show that while there are trends with the at.% Fe/S ratio of pyrrhotite with thermal and aqueous alteration in some meteorite groups, there is a universal trend between the Fe/S ratio and degree of oxidation. Relatively reducing conditions led to the formation of troilite during: (1) chondrule formation in the protoplanetary disk (i.e., pristine chondrites) and (2) parent body thermal alteration (i.e., LL4 to LL6, CR1, CM, and CY chondrites). Oxidizing and sulfidizing conditions led to the formation of Fe-depleted pyrrhotite with low Fe/S ratios during: (1) aqueous alteration (i.e., CM and CI chondrites), and (2) thermal alteration (i.e., CK and R chondrites). The presence of troilite in highly aqueously altered carbonaceous chondrites (e.g., CY, CR1, and some CM chondrites) indicates they were heated after aqueous alteration. The presence of troilite, Fe-depleted pyrrhotite, or pyrite in a chondrite can provide an estimate of the oxygen and sulfur fugacities at which it was formed or altered. The data reported here can be used to estimate the oxygen fugacity of formation and potentially the aqueous and/or thermal histories of sulfides in extraterrestrial samples, including those returned by the Hayabusa2 mission and due to be returned by the OSIRIS-REx mission in the near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-91
Number of pages26
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume303
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 15 2021

Keywords

  • Asteroid sample return
  • Chondrite
  • Oxidation
  • Pyrite
  • Pyrrhotite
  • Sulfide
  • Troilite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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