Most extraterrestrial samples feature the two accessory Ca-phosphates (apatite-group minerals and merrillite), which are important carrier phases of the rare earth elements (REE). The trace-element concentrations (REE, Sc, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Co, As, Rb, Sr, Y, Zr, Nb, Ba, Hf, Ta, Pb, Th, and U) of selected grains were analyzed by LA-ICP-MS and/or SIMS (REE only). This systematic investigation includes 99 apatite and 149 merrillite analyses from meteorites deriving from various asteroidal bodies including 1 carbonaceous chondrite, 8 ordinary chondrites, 3 acapulcoites, 1 winonaite, 2 eucrites, 5 shergottites, 1 ureilitic trachyandesite, 2 mesosiderites, and 1 silicate-bearing IAB iron meteorite.

Although Ca-phosphates predominantly form in metamorphic and/or metasomatic reactions, some are of igneous origin. As late-stage phases that often incorporate the vast majority of their host's bulk REE budget, the investigated Ca-phosphates have REE enrichments of up to two orders of magnitude compared to the host rock's bulk concentrations. Within a single sample, each phosphate species displays a uniform REE-pattern, and variations are mainly restricted to their enrichment, therefore indicating similar formation conditions. Exceptions are brecciated samples, i.e., the Adzhi-Bogdo (LL3-6) ordinary chondrite. Despite this uniformity within single samples, distinct meteorite groups do not necessarily have unique REE-patterns. Four basic shapes dominate the REE patterns of meteoritic Ca-phosphates: (1) flat patterns, smoothly decreasing from La-Lu with prominent negative Eu anomalies (acapulcoites, eucrites, apatite from the winonaite and the ureilitic trachyandesite, merrillite from ordinary chondrites); (2) unfractionated patterns, with only minor or no anomalies (mesosiderites, enriched shergottites, IAB-iron meteorite); (3) LREE-enriched patterns, with either positive or slightly negative Eu anomalies (chondritic apatite); and (4) strongly LREE-depleted patterns, with negative Eu anomalies (depleted shergottites). The patterns do not correlate with the grade of metamorphism (petrologic type), specific adjacent mineral assemblages or with Ca-phosphate grain size. Neither the proportions of different REE, nor particular REE patterns themselves are universally correlated to a specific formation mechanism yet Eu (i.e., magnitude of the Eu anomaly) is a sensitive indicator to evaluate the timing of plagioclase and phosphate crystallization. Based on our data, U and Th abundances in apatite increase (almost linearly) with the grade of metamorphism, as well as with the differentiation of their host rock.

You do not currently have access to this article.