Tomography: A window on the role of sulfur in the structure of micrometeorites

Susan Taylor, Keith W. Jones, Gregory F. Herzog, Claire E. Hornig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Abstract- To determine the role played by sulfides in the formation of vesicles and FeNi metal beads, we mapped the locations and tabulated the numbers of sulfides, metal beads, and vesicles in 1583 sectioned micrometeorites (MMs) using conventional microscopy and in 190 whole MMs using synchrotron computed microtomography (SCMT). Both the section and the SCMT images show that sulfides melt, coalesce, and migrate to the MMs surface. The decomposition of sulfides may occur during all these stages. Given the sulfide morphologies and compositions that we see in section, we think the breakdown of Ni sulfides produces the FeNi beads. The SCMT images show that metal beads are common in melted MMs, >50% have them. Vesicles in porphyritic and scoriaceous MMs are also probably formed as sulfides decompose. Not only do sulfides abut the vesicles but also the temperatures at which sulfides decompose overlap those at which MM surfaces first melt and temporarily seal, suggesting that S gases could produce most of these vesicles. As the vesicle shapes and patterns of distribution differ among MM classes, tomography can be used to nondestructively screen for specific types of MMs. Tomography is a powerful tool for visualizing the three-dimensional distribution of metal beads, sulfides, mean densities, and vesicles in MMs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1498-1509
Number of pages12
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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