Volatile loss under a diffusion-limited regime in tektites: evidence from tin stable isotopes

John B. Creech*, Frédéric Moynier, Christian Koeberl

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Tektites are glasses derived from near-surface continental crustal rocks that were molten and ejected from the Earth's surface during hypervelocity meteorite impacts. They are among the driest terrestrial samples, although the exact mechanism of water loss and the behaviour of other volatile species during these processes are debated. Based on the difference in magnitude of the Cu and Zn isotopic fractionations in tektites, and the difference of diffusivity between these elements, it was suggested that volatile loss was diffusion-limited. Tin is potentially well suited to testing this model, as it has a lower diffusivity in silicate melts than both Cu and Zn, but a similar volatility to Zn. Here, we analysed the Sn stable isotopic composition in a suite of seven tektites, representing three of the four known tektite strewn fields, and for which Zn and Cu isotopes were previously reported. Tin is enriched in the heavier isotopes (≥2.5‰ on the 122Sn/118Sn ratio) in tektites, correlated with the degree of Sn elemental depletion in their respective samples as well as with Cu and Zn isotope ratios, implying a common control. While the isotope fractionation of Sn, Cu and Zn is a result of volatility, the magnitude of isotope fractionation is strongly moderated by their relative rates of diffusion in the molten tektite droplets. An Australasian Muong Nong-type tektite analysed has the least Sn depletion and Sn isotope fractionation, consistent with these samples being more proximal to the source and experiencing a shorter time at high temperatures.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number119279
    Pages (from-to)1-5
    Number of pages5
    JournalChemical Geology
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2019


    • Tektites
    • Volatiles
    • Tin
    • Stable isotopes
    • Impacts


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