The isotopic composition and elemental abundance of lutetium in meteorites and terrestrial samples and the 176Lu cosmochronometer
Review articleOpen access

AbstractThe isotopic composition of lutetium has been measured in a range of terrestrial and meteoritic materials using solid-source mass spectrometric techniques. The meteoritic and terrestrial isotopic abundances are identical within experimental errors. The absolute 175Lu/176Lu ratio as determined in this work is 37.36 ± 0.07 at the 95% confidence level. On the basis of this measurement the atomic weight of lutetium has been calculated to be 174.967 ± 0.002, which is in good agreement with the currently accepted figure of 174.97 ± 0.01.Using the stable isotope dilution technique the abundance of lutetium has been determined in 25 stone, 1 stony-iron and 8 iron meteorites, and in 12 standard rocks, with an accuracy of ±5% at the 95% confidence level. In general, there is good agreement between this work and other published data.The 176Lu-176Hf pair has been proposed as an s process nucleocosmochronometer, because of the long half-life of 176Lu and the unique fact that both are s process isobars. The isotopic and elemental abundances of lutetium as measured in this work have been used with published nuclear data to estimate the mean age of s process nucleosynthesis for this isobaric pair, using the Schramm-Wasserburg formalism. The mean age cannot be accurately determined at the present time because of the lack of 30 keV neutron capture cross-section data for s only process nuclides and an accurate measurement of the branching ratio of 175Lu + n. However, it is possible to place constraints on the nuclear parameters in this mass region using a reasonable s process chronology based on the decay of 176Lu.

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