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Origin of Th/U Variations in Chondritic Meteorites


Goreva, Julia S. (2001) Origin of Th/U Variations in Chondritic Meteorites. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/hfsz-ym11.


Isotope dilution thorium and uranium analyses of the Harleton chondrite show a larger scatter than previously observed in equilibrated ordinary chondrites (EOC). The linear correlation of Th/U with 1/U in Harleton (and all EOC data) is produced by variation in the chlorapatite to merrillite mixing ratio. Apatite variations control the U concentrations. Phosphorus variations are compensated by inverse variations in U to preserve the Th/U vs. 1/U correlation. Because the Th/U variations reflect phosphate ampling, a weighted Th/U average should converge to an improved solar system Th/U. We obtain Th/U=3.53 (1-mean=0.10), significantly lower and more precise than previous estimates.

To test whether apatite also produces Th/U variation in CI and CM chondrites, we performed P analyses on the solutions from leaching experiments of Orgueil and Murchison meteorites.

A linear Th/U vs. 1/U correlation in CI can be explained by redistribution of hexavalent U by aqueous fluids into carbonates and sulfates.

Unlike CI and EOC, whole rock Th/U variations in CMs are mostly due to Th variations. A Th/U vs. 1/U linear correlation suggested by previous data for CMs is not real. We distinguish 4 components responsible for the whole rock Th/U variations: (1) P and actinide-depleted matrix containing small amounts of U-rich carbonate/sulfate phases (similar to CIs); (2) CAIs and (3) chondrules are major reservoirs for actinides, (4) an easily leachable phase of high Th/U. likely carbonate produced by CAI alteration. Phosphates play a minor role as actinide and P carrier phases in CM chondrites.

Using our Th/U and minimum galactic ages from halo globular clusters, we calculate relative supernovae production rates for 232Th/238U and 235U/238U for different models of r-process nucleosynthesis. For uniform galactic production, the beginning of the r-process nucleosynthesis must be less than 13 Gyr. Exponentially decreasing production is also consistent with a 13 Gyr age, but very slow decay times are required (less than 35 Gyr), approaching the uniform production. The 15 Gyr Galaxy requires either a fast initial production growth (infall time constant less than 0.5 Gyr) followed by very low decrease (decay time constant greater than 100 Gyr), or the fastest possible decrease (≈8 Gyr) preceded by slow in fall (≈7.5 Gyr).

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Geochemistry
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Geochemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Burnett, Donald S. (advisor)
  • Rossman, George Robert (advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • Rossman, George Robert (chair)
  • Burnett, Donald S.
  • Farley, Kenneth A.
  • Wasserburg, Gerald J.
  • Stolper, Edward M.
Defense Date:20 December 2000
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:04252014-150216789
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8202
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:28 Apr 2014 23:01
Last Modified:13 May 2024 21:39

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