Characterization of weathering and heterogeneous mineral phase distribution in brachinite Northwest Africa 4872

TitleCharacterization of weathering and heterogeneous mineral phase distribution in brachinite Northwest Africa 4872
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsHyde B.C, Day JMD, Tait K.T, Ash R.D, Holdsworth D.W, Moser D.E
JournalMeteoritics & Planetary Science
Date Published2014/07
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1086-9379
Accession NumberWOS:000339159300001
Keywordsabundance systematics; chemistry; cold deserts; highly-siderophile-element; iron sulfate minerals; martian meteorite; osmium isotope; parent body; raman-spectroscopy; ureilites

Terrestrial weathering of hot desert achondrite meteorite finds and heterogeneous phase distributions in meteorites can complicate interpretation of petrological and geochemical information regarding parent-body processes. For example, understanding the effects of weathering is important for establishing chalcophile and siderophile element distributions within sulfide and metal phases in meteorites. Heterogeneous mineral phase distribution in relatively coarsely grained meteorites can also lead to uncertainties relating to compositional representativeness. Here, we investigate the weathering and high-density (e. g., sulfide, spinel, Fe-oxide) phase distribution in sections of ultramafic achondrite meteorite Northwest Africa (NWA) 4872. NWA 4872 is an olivine-rich brachinite (Fo(63.6 +/- 0.5)) with subsidiary pyroxene (Fs(9.7 +/- 0.1)Wo(46.3 +/- 0.2)), Cr-spinel (Cr# = 70.3 +/- 1.1), and weathered sulfide and metal. Raman mapping confirms that weathering has redistributed sulfur from primary troilite, resulting in the formation of Fe-oxide (-hydroxide) and marcasite (FeS2). From Raman mapping, NWA 4872 is composed of olivine (89%), Ca-rich pyroxene (0.4%), and Cr-spinel (1.1%), with approximately 7% oxidized metal and sulfide and 2.3% marcasite-dominated sulfide. Microcomputed tomography (micro-CT) observations reveal high-density regions, demonstrating heterogeneities in mineral distribution. Precision cutting of the largest high-density region revealed a single 2 mm Cr-spinel grain. Despite the weathering in NWA 4872, rare earth element (REE) abundances of pyroxene determined by laser-ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) indicate negligible modification of these elements in this mineral phase. The REE abundances of mineral grains in NWA 4872 are consistent with formation of the meteorite as the residuum of the partial melting process that occurred on its parent body. LA-ICP-MS analyses of sulfide and alteration products demonstrate the mobility of Re and/or Os; however, highly siderophile element (HSE) abundance patterns remain faithful recorders of processes acting on the brachinite parent body(ies). Detailed study of weathering and phase distribution offers a powerful tool for assessing the effects of low-temperature alteration and for identifying robust evidence for parent-body processes.

Short TitleMeteorit. Planet. Sci.
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