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Mineralogy, microtexture, and composition of shock-induced melt pockets in the Los Angeles basaltic shergottite

Faculty Advisor




Martian (SNC) meteorites, shergottites, shock metamorphism

Abstract (summary)

Analytical electron microscopy of shock features in the basaltic shergottite Los Angeles (stone 1) reveals: 1) shock recorded in the bulk sample; and 2) localized pressure and temperature excursions that have generated melt pockets up to 4 mm in diameter. Bulk shock effects include microfaulting (offsets 1–200 mm), mosaicism, deformed exsolution lamellae and planar fracturing in pyroxene, undulose extinction in whitlockite, mechanical twinning in titanomagnetite and ilmenite, and the transformation of plagioclase to maskelynite (£4% remnant reduced birefringence). The pressure estimates for bulk shock are 35–40 GPa. Localized shock excursions have generated three types of discrete melt zones (0.07 × 1.3 mm to 3.0 × 3.5 mm apparent diameter) possessing glassy to microcrystalline groundmasses. These melt pockets are differentiated on the basis of size, clast volume, and degree of crystallization and vesiculation. Melt veins and melt dikelets emanate from the melt pockets up to 3 mm into the host rock but do not necessarily connect with other melt pockets. The melt pockets were generated by pressure-temperature excursions of 60–80 GPa and 1600–2000°C, resulting in discrete melting of adjacent host rock minerals at grain boundary margins. Concentric zoning in the margins of clinopyroxenes coincides with a progressive reduction in birefringence as melt pockets are approached. This suggests that the shock excursions were focused as point sources in the wake of the shock front that induced bulk damage.

Publication Information

Walton, E. L., & Spray, J. G. (2003). Mineralogy, microtexture, and composition of shock-induced melt pockets in the Los Angeles basaltic shergottite. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 38(12), 1865-1875. doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2003.tb00020.x


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