Monday, May 02, 2016

Was an Impact the Source of a Hadrean Zircon?


Kenny et al


Constraining the origin and history of very ancient detrital zircons has unique potential for furthering our knowledge of Earth's very early crust and Hadean geodynamics. Previous applications of the Ti-in-zircon thermometer to >4 Ga zircons have identified a population with relatively low crystallization temperatures (Tzirxtln) of ∼685 °C. This could possibly indicate wet minimum-melting conditions producing granitic melts, implying very different Hadean terrestrial geology from that of other rocky planets. Here we report the first comprehensive ion microprobe study of zircons from a transect through the differentiated Sudbury impact melt sheet (Ontario, Canada). The new zircon Ti results and corresponding Tzirxtln fully overlap with those of the Hadean zircon population. Previous studies that measured Ti in impact melt sheet zircons did not find this wide range because they analyzed samples only from a restricted portion of the melt sheet and because they used laser ablation analyses that can overestimate true Ti content. It is important to note that internal differentiation of the impact melt is likely a prerequisite for the observed low Tzirxtln in zircons from the most evolved rocks. On Earth, melt sheet differentiation is strongest in subaqueous impact basins. Thus, not all Hadean detrital zircon with low Ti necessarily formed during melting at plate boundaries, but at least some could also have crystallized in melt sheets caused by intense meteorite bombardment of the early, hydrosphere-covered protocrust.

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