Cohenite in Meteorites: A Proposed Origin

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Science  01 Jul 1966:
Vol. 153, Issue 3731, pp. 60-62
DOI: 10.1126/science.153.3731.60


Cohenite [(Fe, Ni)3C] is found almost exclusively in meteorites containing from 6 to 8 percent nickel (by weight). On the basis of iron-nickel-carbon phase diagrams at 1 atmosphere and of kinetic data, the occurrence of cohenite within this narrow composition range as a low-pressure metastable phase and the nonoccurrence of cohenite in meteorites outside the range 6 to 8 percent nickel can be explained. Cohenite formed in meteorites containing less than 6 to 8 percent nickel decomposed to metal and graphite during cooling; it cannot form in meteorites containing more than about 8 percent. The presence of cohenite in meteorites cannot be used as an indicator of pressure of formation. However, the absence of cohenite in meteorites containing the assemblage, metal plus graphite, requires low pressures during cooling.