Impact-induced devolatilization and hydrogen isotopic fractionation of serpentine: Implications for planetary accretion

James Tyburczy, R. V. Krishnamurthy, Samuel Epstein, Thomas J. Ahrens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The degree of impact-induced devolatilization of nonporous serpentine, porous serpentine, and deuterium-enriched serpentine was investigated using two independent experimental methods, the gas recovery method and the solid recovery method, yielding consistent results. The gas recovery method enables determination of the chemical and hydrogen isotopic composition of the recovered gases. Experiments on deuterium-enriched serpentine unambiguously identify the samples as the source of the recovered gases, as opposed to other possible contaminants. For shock pressures near incipient devolatilization (Pinitial = 5.0 GPa), the hydrogen isotopic composition of the evolved gas is similar to that of the starting material. For higher shock pressures the bulk evolved gas is significantly lower in deuterium than the starting material. There is also significant reduction of H2O to H2 in gases recovered at higher shock pressures, probably caused by reaction of evolved H2O with the metal gas recovery fixture. The hydrogen isotopic fractionation between the evolved gas and the residual solid indicates nonequilibrium, kinetic control of gas-solid isotopic ratios. In contrast, gaseous H2OH2 isotopic fractionation suggests high temperature (800-1300 K) isotopic equilibrium between the gaseous species, indicating initiation of devolatilization at sites of greater than average energy deposition (i.e., shear bands). Impact-induced hydrogen isotopic fractionation of hydrous silicates during accretion can affect the distribution of hydrogen isotopes of planetary bodies during accretion, leaving the interiors enriched in deuterium. The significance of this process for planetary development depends on the models used for extrapolation of the observed isotopic fractionation to devolatilizations greater than those investigated experimentally and assumptions about timing and rates of protoatmosphere loss, frequency of multiple impacts, and rates of gas-solid or gas-melt isotopic re-equilibration. A simple model indicates that substantial planetary interior enrichments of D H relative to that of the incident material can result from impact-induced hydrogen fractionation during accretion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-261
Number of pages17
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact-induced devolatilization and hydrogen isotopic fractionation of serpentine: Implications for planetary accretion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this