The University of Arizona

Mobile element analysis by secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) of impactite matrix samples from the Yaxcopoil-1 drill core in the Chicxulub impact structure



The concentrations of the fluid mobile trace elements lithium, beryllium, boron, and barium were measured in samples of the altered matrix of several impactite breccias of the Yaxcopoil-1 drill core using secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) to determine the extent of transport due to aqueous or hydrothermal processes. Three of the elements, Li, Be, and B, have higher concentrations in the upper suevite impact breccias than in the lower impact melt deposits by factors of 3.5, 2.2, and 1.5, respectively. Lithium and B are the most enriched elements up section, and appear to have had the greatest mobility. The similar fractionation of Li and B is consistent with fluid transport and alteration under low-temperature conditions of less than 150 °C based on published experimental studies. In contrast to Li, Be, and B, the concentration of Ba in the altered matrix materials decreases upward in the section, and the concentration of Ba in the matrix is an order of magnitude less than the bulk concentrations, likely due to the presence of barite. The origin of the elemental variations with depth may be related to different protolith compositions in the upper versus the lower impactite units. A different protolith in the altered matrix is suggested by the Mg-rich composition of the lower units versus the Al-rich composition of the upper units, which largely correlates with the mobile element variations. The possibility that vertical transport of mobile elements is due to a postimpact hydrothermal system is supported by published data showing that the sediments immediately overlying the impactites are enriched in mobile elements derived from a hydrothermal system. However, the mobile elements in the sediments do not have to originate from the underlying impactites. In conclusion, our data suggests that the impactites at this location did not experience extensive high-temperature hydrothermal processing, and that only limited transport of some elements, including Li, Be, and B, occurred.


Impact Crater Chicxulub Mexico;Hydrothermal;Ion probe

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