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Mg diffusion in anorthite: implications for the formation of early solar system planetesimals

LaTourrette, T. and Wasserburg, G. J. (1998) Mg diffusion in anorthite: implications for the formation of early solar system planetesimals. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 158 (3-4). pp. 91-108. ISSN 0012-821X.

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We have measured the self diffusion coefficients of Mg, Ca, and Sr in anorthitic plagioclase in order to assess the potential of Mg isotopic heterogeneities in early solar system planetesimals to survive thermal metamorphism. Diffusion couples were constructed from polished single crystals of natural anorthite and synthetic, isotopically enriched anorthite glass. Couples were annealed at atmospheric pressure and 1200–1400°C and isotopic concentration profiles were measured with an ion microprobe. The results show that Mg diffusion in anorthite is surprisingly fast, with D_(Mg) being over 2 orders of magnitude greater than D_(Sr). This indicates that the diffusion coefficient of Mg in anorthite cannot be approximated with that for Sr. Mg diffusion in the c-direction is also slightly faster than in the b-direction, while Ca and Sr diffusion appear to be isotropic. The results provide important constraints on the thermochronological history of anorthite-bearing mineral assemblages that preserve radiogenic ^(26)Mg excesses. In a planetesimal heated by the decay of ^(26)Al, the temperature at any point depends on the planetesimal size, time of formation, thermal conductivity, and depth within the planetesimal. Given sufficient heating, ^(26)Mg heterogeneities produced by the in-situ decay of ^(26)Al in Ca-, Al-rich inclusions (CAIs) and chondrules will be erased by diffusive equilibration. Using the self diffusion coefficient for Mg in anorthite measured in this study, we show that the common occurrence of ^(26)Mg excesses in these inclusions requires that they must be stored in small (≲15 km) bodies or the outermost rims of larger bodies for the first 1–2 million years of the solar system's history. For early formed bodies larger than 15 km, most of the mass will have been heated sufficiently for any radiogenic ^(26)Mg to have been diffusively homogenized in the Mg-rich planetary environment.

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URLURL TypeDescription
Wasserburg, G. J.0000-0002-7957-8029
Additional Information: © 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. Received 18 September 1997; revised version received 28 January 1998; accepted 18 February 1998. We would particularly like to acknowledge and thank G. Huss for the great aid and guidance that he provided in handling Panurge. We also gratefully acknowledge thorough and insightful reviews by B. Watson, A. Davis, and D. Brabander. This work also benefitted from helpful discussions with J. Wasson, G. Huss, S. Russell, and K. McKeegan, and technical assistance from L. Hedges, M. Heinrich, and P. Carpenter. Y. Syono kindly provided the Miyake-jima anorthite crystals. This work was supported by DOE Grant DOE DE FG03-88ER-13851 and NASA Grant NAGW5-4083. Caltech GPS contribution 5828(974). [CL]
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)DE FG03-88ER-13851
Subject Keywords:diffusion; anorthite; planetesimals; calcium-aluminum inclusions; magnesium; aluminum
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Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences5828
Lunatic Asylum Lab974
Issue or Number:3-4
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20131115-120901062
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Official Citation:T. LaTourrette, G.J. Wasserburg, Mg diffusion in anorthite: implications for the formation of early solar system planetesimals, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 158, Issues 3–4, 30 May 1998, Pages 91-108, ISSN 0012-821X, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:42504
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:15 Nov 2013 21:14
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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