The University of Arizona

Chemical compositions of martian basalts (shergottites): Some inferences on basalt formation, mantle metasomatism, and differentiation on Mars

A. H. Treiman


Bulk chemical compositions of the shergottite basalts provide important constraints on magma genesis and mantle processes in Mars. Abundances of many major and trace elements in the shergottites covary in 2 distinct groups: Group 1 (G1) includes mostly highly incompatible elements (e.g., La, Th), and Group 2 (G2) includes mostly moderately incompatible elements (e.g., Ti, Lu, Al, Hf). Covariations of G2 elements (not necessarily linear) are consistent with partitioning between basalt magma and orthopyroxene + olivine. This fractionation represents partial melting to form the shergottites and their crystallization; the restite minerals cannot include aluminous phase(s), phosphate, ilmenite, zircon, or sulfides. Overall, abundances of G1 elements are decoupled from those of G2. In graphing abundances of a G1 element against those of a G2 element, G1/G2 abundance ratios do not appear to be random but are restricted to 4 values. Shergottites with a given G1/G2 value need not have the same crystallization age and need not fall on a single fractionation trajectory involving compatible elements (e.g., Ti versus Fe*). These observations imply that the G1/G2 families were established before basalt formation and suggest metasomatic enrichment of their source region (major carrier of G2 elements) by a component rich in G1 elements. Group 1 elements were efficiently separated from G2 elements very early in Mars' history. Such efficient fractionation is not consistent with simple petrogenesis; it requires multiple fractionations, "complex" petrogenetic processes, or minerals with unusual geochemistry. The behavior of phosphorus in this early fractionation event is inexplicable by normal petrogenetic processes and minerals. Several explanations are possible, including significant compatibility of P in majoritic garnet and the presence of P-bearing iron metal (or a phosphide phase) in the residual solid assemblage (carrier of G2 elements). If the latter, Mars' mantle is more oxidized now than during the ancient fractionation event.


Mars geochemistry;Mantle metasomatism;Shergottites

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