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Preservation of extraterrestrial ^3He in 480-Ma-old marine limestones

Patterson, D. B. and Farley, K. A. and Schmitz, B. (1998) Preservation of extraterrestrial ^3He in 480-Ma-old marine limestones. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 163 (1-4). pp. 315-325. ISSN 0012-821X. doi:10.1016/S0012-821X(98)00197-6.

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We have measured the helium abundance and isotopic composition of a suite of Lower Ordovician marine limestones and associated fossil meteorites from Kinnekulle, Sweden. Limestone ^3He/^4He ratios as high as 11.5 times the atmospheric value in fused samples and up to 23 times atmospheric in a single step-heat fraction indicate the presence of extraterrestrial helium, and demonstrate that at least a fraction of the extraterrestrial ^3He carried by interplanetary dust particles must be retained against diffusive and diagenetic losses for up to 480 Ma. The carrier phase has not been identified but is not magnetic. Extrapolation of high-temperature ^3He diffusivities in these sediments is consistent with strong retention of extraterrestrial ^3He under ambient Earth-surface conditions. Combination of the observed helium concentrations with sedimentation rates estimated from conodont biostratigraphy suggest that the flux of extraterrestrial ^3He in the Early Ordovician was about 0.5×10^(−12) cm^3 STP cm^(−2) ka^(−1), ignoring potential post-deposition helium loss. This value is indistinguishable from the average ^3He flux estimated for the Cenozoic Era. In contrast, previous studies of fossil meteorites, Ir abundances, and Os isotopic ratios in the limestone suggest that the total accretion rate of extraterrestrial material during the studied interval was at least an order of magnitude higher than the Cenozoic average. This disparity may reflect significant post-depositional loss of ^3He from IDPs within these old limestones; if so, the match between the Ordovician flux and the Cenozoic average would be fortuitous. Alternatively, the size distribution of infalling objects during the Early Ordovician may have been enriched only in extraterrestrial material too large to retain ^3He during atmospheric entry heating (>∼30 μm). The fossil meteorites themselves also preserve extraterrestrial helium. Meteorite 3He concentrations of 2 to 9×10^(−12) cm^3 STP g^(−1) are several orders of magnitude lower than found in most modern meteorites, suggesting very substantial helium loss (probably >99.9%) from these chemically altered objects. The meteorites carry ^3He concentrations only a factor of a few higher than the host limestones. The meteorites themselves cannot be the source of the extraterrestrial ^3He observed in the limestones.

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Farley, K. A.0000-0002-7846-7546
Additional Information:© 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. Received 2 March 1998; revised version received 20 August 1998; accepted 24 August 1998. This work was supported by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation and NASA. We thank Dr. C. Koeberl, Dr. D. Hilton, and an anonymous reviewer for thoughtful and constructive comments. We also thank Dr. M. Tassinari for providing the meteorite samples. [MK]
Group:UNSPECIFIED, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
David and Lucile Packard FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords: He-3; isotopes; Ordovician; Sweden; meteorites
Issue or Number:1-4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20121120-101104468
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Official Citation:D.B. Patterson, K.A. Farley, B. Schmitz, Preservation of extraterrestrial 3He in 480-Ma-old marine limestones, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 163, Issues 1–4, November 1998, Pages 315-325, ISSN 0012-821X, 10.1016/S0012-821X(98)00197-6. (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:35560
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:20 Nov 2012 18:30
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:16

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