Author: A. Thakur 1
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  • 1 University of California, San Diego California Space Institute and Department of Chemistry 92093-0317 La Jolla CA USA
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Abstract  

196Hg and202Hg isotopes have been measured by neutron activation analysis in samples of twelve stone meteorites. Hg is extracted from an irradiated sample by stepwise heating. The mercury concentrations vary from 0.07 to 33 ppm. While most of the samples give196Hg/202Hg ratios similar to terrestrial value within error limits, in some cases large anomalies are observed. A number of control experiments have been devised, that show the absence of experimental artifacts, during sample preparation, neutron irradiation, chemical separation and counting stages. Several anomalous and normal Hg distillate have been re-irradiated as Hg-diethyl-dithio-carbamate complex to eliminate the influence of neutron self shielding and interfering reactions from matrix elements. The isotopic ratio patterns persist in the distillates too proving that any artifacts during meteorite irradiation and measurement are essentially absent. Both positive and negative anomalies are observed; however, the negative anomalies are much more frequent and abundant. In an extreme case of fine grained magnetic particles of Ambapur Nagla the196Hg is apparently absent in the Hg released at 100 °C. A 2196Hg/202Hg value is only 6% relative to the monitor. This experiment shows the robustness of neutron activation analysis and suggest some constrains on the formation history of stone meteorites.