The University of Arizona

Effects of experimental aqueous alteration on the abundances of argon-rich noble gases in the Ningqiang carbonaceous chondrite

Yukio Yamamoto, Ryuji Okazaki, Tomoki Nakamura

Abstract


Ar-rich noble gases, the so-called "subsolar" noble gases, are a major component of heavy primordial noble gases in unequilibrated ordinary chondrites and some classes of anhydrous carbonaceous chondrites, whereas they are almost absent in hydrous carbonaceous chondrites that suffered extensive aqueous alteration. To understand the effects of aqueous alteration on the abundance of Ar-rich noble gases, we performed an aqueous alteration experiments on the Ningqiang type 3 carbonaceous chondrite that consists entirely of anhydrous minerals and contains Ar-rich noble gases. Powdered samples and deionized neutral water were kept at 200 C for 10 and 20 days, respectively. Mineralogical analyses show that, during the 10-day alteration, serpentine and hematite formed at the expense of olivine, low-Ca pyroxene, and sulfide. Noble gas analyses show that the 10-day alteration of natural Ningqiang removed 79% of the primordial 36Ar, 68% of the 84Kr, and 60% of the 132Xe, but only 45% of the 4He and 53% of the primordial 20Ne. Calculated elemental ratios of the noble gases removed during the 10-day alteration are in the range of those of Ar-rich noble gases. These results indicate that Ar-rich noble gases are located in materials that are very susceptible to aqueous alteration. In contrast, heavy primordial noble gases remaining in the altered samples are close to Q gas in elemental and isotope compositions. This indicates that phase Q is much more resistant to aqueous alteration than the host phases of Ar-rich noble gases. In the 20-day sample, the mineralogical and noble gas signatures are basically similar to those of the 10-day sample, indicating that the loss of Ar-rich noble gases was completed within the 10-day alteration. Our results suggest that almost all of the Ar-rich noble gases were lost from primitive asteroids during early, low-temperature aqueous alteration.

Keywords


aqueous alteration;noble gases;unequilibrated chondrite

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