The University of Arizona

Size-frequency distributions of chondrules and chondrule fragments in LL3 chondrites: Implications for parent-body fragmentation of chondrules

V. E. Nelson, A. E. Rubin


We measured the sizes and textural types of 719 intact chondrules and 1322 chondrule fragments in thin sections of Semarkona (LL3.0), Bishunpur (LL3.1), Krymka (LL3.1), Piancaldoli (LL3.4) and Lewis Cliff 88175 (LL3.8). The mean apparent diameter of chondrules in these LL3 chondrites is 0.80 Φ units or 570 um, much smaller than the previous rough estimate of ~900 μm. Chondrule fragments in the five LL3 chondrites have a mean apparent cross-section of 1.60 phi units or 330 μm. The smallest fragments are isolated olivine and pyroxene grains; these are probably phenocrysts liberated from disrupted porphyritic chondrules. All five LL3 chondrites have fragment/chondrule number ratios exceeding unity, suggesting that substantial numbers of the chondrules in these rocks were shattered. Most fragmentation probably occurred on the parent asteroid. Porphyritic chondrules (porphyritic olivine + porphyritic pyroxene + porphyritic olivine-pyroxene) are more readily broken than droplet chondrules (barred olivine + radial pyroxene + cryptocrystalline). The porphyritic fragment/chondrule number ratio (2.0) appreciably exceeds that of droplet-textured objects (0.9). Intact droplet chondrules have a larger mean size than intact porphyritic chondrules, implying that large porphyritic chondrules are fragmented preferentially. This is consistent with the relatively low percentage of porphyritic chondrules within the set of the largest chondrules (57%) compared to that within the set of the smallest chondrules (81%). Differences in mean size among chondrule textural types may be due mainly to parent-body chondrule-fragmentation events and not to chondrule-formation processes in the solar nebula.


chondrules;Semarkona;Bishunpur;Krymka;Piancaldoli;Lewis Cliff 88175;LL3 chondrites;olivine grains;pyroxene grains;fragmentation;porphyritic olivine;porphyritic pyroxene;porphyritic olivine-pyroxene

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