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The onset of metamorphism in ordinary and carbonaceous chondrites

January 1, 2005

Ordinary and carbonaceous chondrites of the lowest petrologic types were surveyed by X-ray mapping techniques. A variety of metamorphic effects were noted and subjected to detailed analysis using electron microprobe, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and cathodoluminescence (CL) methods. The distribution of Cr in FeO-rich olivine systematically changes as metamorphism increases between type 3.0 and type 3.2. Igneous zoning patterns are replaced by complex ones and Cr-rich coatings develop on all grains. Cr distributions in olivine are controlled by the exsolution of a Cr-rich phase, probably chromite. Cr in olivine may have been partly present as tetrahedrally coordinated Cr3+. Separation of chromite is nearly complete by petrologic type 3.2. The abundance of chondrules showing an inhomogeneous distribution of alkalis in mesostasis also increases with petrologic type. TEM shows this to be the result of crystallization of albite. Residual glass compositions systematically change during metamorphism, becoming increasingly rich in K. Glass in type I chondrules also gains alkalis during metamorphism. Both types of chondrules were open to an exchange of alkalis with opaque matrix and other chondrules. The matrix in the least metamorphosed chondrites is rich in S and Na. The S is lost from the matrix at the earliest stages of metamorphism due to coalescence of minute grains. Progressive heating also results in the loss of sulfides from chondrule rims and increases sulfide abundances in coarse matrix assemblages as well as inside chondrules. Alkalis initially leave the matrix and enter chondrules during early metamorphism. Feldspar subsequently nucleates in the matrix and Na re-enters from chondrules. These metamorphic trends can be used to refine classification schemes for chondrites. Cr distributions in olivine are a highly effective tool for assigning petrologic types to the most primitive meteorites and can be used to subdivide types 3.0 and 3.1 into types 3.00 through 3.15. On this basis, the most primitive ordinary chondrite known is Semarkona, although even this meteorite has experienced a small amount of metamorphism. Allan Hills (ALH) A77307 is the least metamorphosed CO chondrite and shares many properties with the ungrouped carbonaceous chondrite Acfer 094. Analytical problems are significant for glasses in type II chondrules, as Na is easily lost during microprobe analysis. As a result, existing schemes for chondrule classification that are based on the alkali content of glasses need to be revised.

Publication Year 2005
Title The onset of metamorphism in ordinary and carbonaceous chondrites
DOI 10.1111/j.1945-5100.2005.tb00366.x
Authors Jeffrey N. Grossman, Adrian J. Brearley
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Meteoritics and Planetary Science
Index ID 70029459
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse