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Resolving impact volatilization and condensation from target rock mixing and hydrothermal overprinting within the chicxulub impact structure

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

This work presents isotopic data for the non-traditional isotope systems Fe, Cu, and Zn on a set of Chicxulub impactites and target lithologies with the aim of better documenting the dynamic processes taking place during hypervelocity impact events, as well as those affecting impact structures during the post-impact phase. The focus lies on material from the recent IODP-ICDP Expedition 364 Hole M0077A drill core obtained from the offshore Chicxulub peak ring. Two ejecta blanket samples from the UNAM 5 and 7 cores were used to compare the crater lithologies with those outside of the impact structure. The datasets of bulk Fe, Cu, and Zn isotope ratios are coupled with petrographic observations and bulk major and trace element compositions to disentangle equilibrium isotope fractionation effects from kinetic processes. The observed Fe and Cu isotopic signatures, with δ56/54Fe ranging from −0.95‰ to 0.58‰ and δ65/63Cu from −0.73‰ to 0.14‰, mostly reflect felsic, mafic, and carbonate target lithology mixing and secondary sulfide mineral formation, the latter associated to the extensive and long-lived (> 105 years) hydrothermal system within Chicxulub structure. On the other hand, the stable Zn isotope ratios provide evidence for volatility-governed isotopic fractionation. The heavier Zn isotopic compositions observed for the uppermost part of the impactite sequence and a metamorphic clast (δ66/64Zn of up to 0.80‰ and 0.87‰, respectively) relative to most basement lithologies and impact melt rock units indicate partial vaporization of Zn, comparable to what has been observed for Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary layer sediments around the world, as well as for tektites from various strewn fields. In contrast to previous work, our data indicate that an isotopically light Zn reservoir (δ66/64Zn down to −0.49‰), of which the existence has previously been suggested based on mass balance considerations, may reside within the upper impact melt rock (UIM) unit. This observation is restricted to a few UIM samples only and cannot be extended to other target or impact melt rock units. Light isotopic signatures of moderately volatile elements in tektites and microtektites have previously been linked to (back-)condensation under distinct kinetic regimes. Although some of the signatures observed may have been partially overprinted during post-impact processes, our bulk data confirm impact volatilization and condensation of Zn, which may be even more pronounced at the microscale, with variable degrees of mixing between isotopically distinct reservoirs, not only at proximal to distal ejecta sites, but also within the lithologies associated with the Chicxulub impact crater.
Journal: Geoscience Frontiers
ISSN: 1674-9871
Issue: 5
Volume: 13
Publication year:2022
Keywords:Chicxulub impact structure, Non-traditional stable isotopes, Impact volatilization, Impact condensation, Hydrothermal alteration, Target lithology mixing