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Origin of Halogens and Nitrogen in Enstatite Chondrites

  • Author(s): Rubin, Alan E.
  • Choi, Byeon-Gak
  • et al.

The EH and EL enstatite chondrites are the most reduced chondrite groups, having formed in nebular regions where the gas may have had high C/O and/or pH2/pH2O ratios. Enstatite chondrites (particularly EH) have higher CI- and Mg-normalized abundances of halogens (especially F and Cl) and nitrogen than ordinary chondrites and most groups of carbonaceous chondrites. Even relative to CI chondrites, EH and EL chondrites are enriched in F. We have found that literature values for the halogen abundance ratios in EH and EL chondrites are strongly correlated with the electronegativities of the individual halogens. We suggest that the most reactive halogens were the most efficient at forming compounds (e.g., halides) that were incorporated into EH-chondrite precursor materials. It seems plausible that, under the more-oxidizing conditions pertaining to the other chondrite groups, a larger fraction of the halogens remained in the gas. Nitrogen may have been incorporated into the enstatite chondrites as simple nitrides that did not condense under the more-oxidizing conditions in the regions where other chondrite groups formed. Literature data show that unequilibrated enstatite chondrites have light bulk N (δ 15N ≈ −20‰) compared to most ordinary (−5 to +20‰) and carbonaceous (+20 to +190‰) chondrites; this may reflect the contribution in enstatite chondrites of nitride condensates with δ15 N values close to the proposed nebular mean (~−400‰). In contrast, N in carbonaceous chondrites is mainly contained within 15N-rich organic matter. The major carrier of N in ordinary chondrites is unknown.

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