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Short-lived chlorine-36 in a Ca- and Al-rich inclusion from the Ningqiang carbonaceous chondrite

National Academy of Sciences
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  • Physical Sciences
  • Astronomy


Excesses of sulfur-36 in sodalite, a chlorine-rich mineral, in a calcium- and aluminum-rich inclusion from the Ningqiang carbonaceous chondrite linearly correlate with chorine/sulfur ratios, providing direct evidence for the presence of short-lived chlorine-36 (with a half-life of 0.3 million years) in the early solar system. The best inferred (36Cl/35Cl)o ratios of the sodalite are ≈5 × 10-6. Different from other short-lived radionuclides, chlorine-36 was introduced into the inclusion by solid-gas reaction during secondary alteration. The alteration reaction probably took place at least 1.5 million years after the first formation of the inclusion, based on the correlated study of the 26Al-26Mg systems of the relict primary minerals and the alteration assemblages, from which we inferred an initial ratio of (36Cl/35Cl)o > 1.6 × 10-4 at the time when calcium- and aluminum-rich inclusions formed. This discovery supports a supernova origin of short-lived nuclides [Cameron, A. G. W., Hoeflich, P., Myers, P. C. & Clayton, D. D. (1995) Astrophys. J. 447, L53; Wasserburg, G. J., Gallino, R. & Busso, M. (1998) Astrophys. J. 500, L189–L193], but presents a serious challenge for local irradiation models [Shu, F. H., Shang, H., Glassgold, A. E. & Lee, T. (1997) Science 277, 1475–1479; Gounelle, M., Shu, F. H., Shang, H., Glassgold, A. E., Rehm, K. E. & Lee, T. (2001) Astrophys. J. 548, 1051–1070]. Furthermore, the short-lived 36Cl may serve as a unique fine-scale chronometer for volatile-rock interaction in the early solar system because of its close association with aqueous and/or anhydrous alteration processes.

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