The University of Arizona

A petrogenic model for the origin and compositional variation of the martian basaltic meteorites

L. E. Borg, D. S. Draper


The major element, trace element, and isotopic compositional ranges of the martian basaltic meteorite source regions have been modeled assuming that planetary differentiation resulted from crystallization of a magma ocean. The models are based on low to high pressure phase relationships estimated from experimental runs and estimates of the composition of silicate Mars from the literature. These models attempt to constrain the mechanisms by which the martian meteorites obtained their superchondritic CaO/Al2O3 ratios and their source regions obtained their parent/daughter (87Rb/86Sr, 147Sm/144Nd, and 176Lu/177Hf) ratios calculated from the initial Sr, Nd, and Hf isotopic compositions of the meteorites. High pressure experiments suggest that majoritic garnet is the liquidus phase for Mars relevant compositions at or above 12 GPa. Early crystallization of this phase from a martian magma ocean yields a liquid characterized by an elevated CaO/Al2O3 ratio and a high Mg#. Olivine-pyroxene-garnet-dominated cumulates that crystallize subsequently will also be characterized by superchondritic CaO/Al2O3 ratios. Melting of these cumulates yields liquids with major element compositions that are similar to calculated parental melts of the martian meteorites. Furthermore, crystallization models demonstrate that some of these cumulates have parent/daughter ratios that are similar to those calculated for the most incompatible-element-depleted source region (i.e., that of the meteorite Queen Alexandra [QUE] 94201). The incompatible-element abundances of the most depleted (QUE 94201-like) source region have also been calculated and provide an estimate of the composition of depleted martian mantle. The incompatible-element pattern of depleted martian mantle calculated here is very similar to the pattern estimated for depleted Earth's mantle. Melting the depleted martian mantle composition reproduces the abundances of many incompatible elements in the parental melt of QUE 94201 (e.g., Ba, Th, K, P, Hf, Zr, and heavy rare earth elements) fairly well but does not reproduce the abundances of Rb, U, Ta and light rare earth elements. The source regions for meteorites such as Shergotty are successfully modeled as mixtures of depleted martian mantle and a late stage liquid trapped in the magma ocean cumulate pile. Melting of this hybrid source yields liquids with major element abundances and incompatible-element patterns that are very similar to the Shergotty bulk rock.


Mars;Experimental petrology;Petrogenetic model

Full Text: