The University of Arizona

Silica as a shock index in shergottites: A cathodoluminescence study

Aoudjehane, H. Chennaou, A. Jambon, B. Reynard, P. Blanc


Silica in shergottites is a minor phase of great significance. Determining its structural state as either silica glass, quartz, cristobalite, tridymite, coesite, stishovite, or post-stishovite could provide informations about their shock history. The purpose of this work is to assess the shock intensity in shergottites using two spectroscopic methods. On a conventional polished section, a scanning electron microscope (SEM) enables us to study the cathodoluminescence (CL) of silica at variable magnification. The results were crosschecked by systematic Raman spectroscopy of the selected areas. CL spectra differ substantially from one another and enable separating stishovite, high and low pressure silica glass, quartz, and cristobalite. We studied a set of five shergottites: Northwest Africa (NWA) 480, NWA 856, Zagami, Shergotty, and Los Angeles. Stishovite is common in Shergotty, Zagami, NWA 856, and NWA 480 and absent in the studied section of Los Angeles. High-pressure glass is very common, particularly in close association with stishovite. According to the textural relationship, it may be a product of the retromorphosis (amorphization during decompression) of stishovite. Large stishovite areas result from the transformation of preexisting low-pressure silica crystals, while needles result from the high-pressure transformation of pyroxene to glass (melt) and silica. In the latter case, they are found in melt pockets and represent a small fraction of areas of overall pyroxene composition. Needles exhibit square sections of about 1 m. Silica spots identical to those described previously as poststishovite are found in Shergotty, Zagami, NWA 480, and NWA 856. At present, the spectroscopic distinction of post-stishovite from stishovite is difficult. Post-stishovite is destroyed under the Raman beam, and CL spectra are possible mixtures of several phases (e.g., glass and post-stishovite). It is concluded that the shock intensity is highly heterogeneous, and the pressure probably exceeded 60 GPa in all shergottites studied here.


observed fall;LL6 ordinary chondrite;magnetic succeptibility;Morocco

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