The University of Arizona

Northwest Africa 428: Impact-induced annealing of an L6 chondrite breccia

Alan E. Rubin


Northwest Africa (NWA) 428 is an L chondrite that was successively thermally metamorphosed to petrologic type-6, shocked to stage S4S5, brecciated, and annealed to approximately petrologic type-4. Its thermal and shock history resembles that of the previously studied LL6 chondrite, Miller Range (MIL) 99301, which formed on a different asteroid. The petrologic type-6 classification of NWA 428 is based on its highly recrystallized texture, coarse metal (150 ± 150 μm), troilite (100 ± 170 μm), and plagioclase (2060 μm) grains, and relatively homogeneous olivine (Fa 24.4 ±  0.6), low-Ca pyroxene (Fs 20.5 ±  0.4), and plagioclase (Ab 84.2 ±  0.4) compositions. The petrographic criteria that indicate shock stage S4S5 include the presence of chromite veinlets, chromite-plagioclase assemblages, numerous occurrences of metallic Cu, irregular troilite grains within metallic Fe-Ni, polycrystalline troilite, duplex plessite, metal and troilite veins, large troilite nodules, and low-Ca clinopyroxene with polysynthetic twins. If the rock had been shocked before thermal metamorphism, low-Ca clinopyroxene produced by the shock event would have transformed into orthopyroxene. Post-shock brecciation is indicated by the presence of recrystallized clasts and highly shocked clasts that form sharp boundaries with the host. Post-shock annealing is indicated by the sharp optical extinction of the olivine grains; during annealing, the damaged olivine crystal lattices healed. If temperatures exceeded those approximating petrologic type-4 (~600700C) during annealing, the low-Ca clinopyroxene would have transformed into orthopyroxene. The other shock indicators, likewise, survived the mild annealing. An impact event is the most plausible source of post-metamorphic, post-shock annealing because any 26Al that may have been present when the asteroid accreted would have decayed away by the time NWA 428 was annealed. The similar inferred histories of NWA 428 (L6) and MIL 99301 (LL6) indicate that impact heating affected more than 1 ordinary chondrite parent body.


Annealing;Impact heating;NWA 428;Shock effects

Full Text: