The University of Arizona

Melt inclusions in augite of the Nakhla martian meteorite: Evidence for basaltic parental melt

K. R. Stockstill, H. Y., McSween, R. J. Bodnar


Nakhla contains crystallized melt inclusions that were trapped in augite and olivine when these phases originally formed on Mars. Our study involved rehomogenization (slow-heating and fast-heating) experiments on multiphase melt inclusions in Nakhla augite. We studied melt inclusions trapped in augite because this phase re-equilibrated with the external melt to a lesser extent than olivine and results could be directly compared with previous Nakhla melt inclusion studies. Following heating and homogenization of encapsulated melt inclusions, single mineral grains were mounted and polished to expose inclusions. Major element chemistry was determined by electron microprobe. The most primitive melt inclusion analyzed in Nakhla NA03 is basaltic and closely matches previously reported nakhlite parent melt compositions. MELTS equilibrium and fractional crystallization models calculated for NA03 and previous Nakhla parent melt estimates at QFM and QFM-1 produced phase assemblages and compositions that can be compared to Nakhla. Of these models, equilibrium crystallization of NA03 at QFM-1 produced the best match to mineral phases and compositions in Nakhla. In all models, olivine and augite co-crystallize, consistent with the hypothesis that olivine is not xenocrystic but has undergone subsolidus re-equilibration. In addition, measured melt inclusion compositions plot along the MELTS-calculated liquid line of descent and may represent pockets of melt trapped at various stages during crystallization. We attempt to resolve discrepancies between previous estimates of the Nakhla parental melt composition and to reinterpret the results of a previous study of rehomogenized melt inclusions in Nakhla. Melt inclusions demonstrate that Nakhla is an igneous rock whose parent melt composition and crystallization history reflect planetary igneous processes.


olivine;electron microprobe;parent melt compositions

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