The University of Arizona

Cr spinel and chromite as petrogenetic indicators in ordinary chondrites: Equilibration temperatures of petrologic types 3.7 to 6

Frank Wlotzka


Many equilibrated ordinary chondrites contain (besides chromites of constant composition) Cr spinel with a large spread in Cr/(Cr + Al) ratios. They occur mainly as large grains in chondrules rich in mesostasis, preventing complete equilibration in Cr/Al but not in Fe/Mg. This partially equilibrated Cr spinel turned out to be particularly useful for the selection of an appropriate olivine/spinel thermometer and for the determination of equilibration temperatures. The main results are:1) The H3.7 to 3.8 and the L3.7 to 3.8 chondrites analyzed show temperatures of 625 to 680 °C;2) Equilibrated chondrites show a range of olivine/Cr-spinel temperatures between 700 and 820 C, and the same average temperatures for type 4 to 6 (number of analyzed meteorites in brackets): H4 (9) 766 °C, H5 (7) 774 °C, H6 (3) 775 °C, L4 (5) 752 °C, L5 (4) 754 °C, L6 (1) 754 °C. These temperatures are interpreted as equilibration temperatures. One indication is that the measured isotherms are straight lines down to low Cr/(Cr + Al) ratios, which have a higher Fe/Mg interdiffusion coefficient than grains with high ratios. And there is no correlation of measured temperature with grain size of Cr spinel.3) Chromites sensu stricto show temperatures about 50 to 100 °C lower than Cr spinel, and a correlation with grain size. This is a closure temperature established during cooling and in situ crystallization.These results can best be interpreted by a "rubble pile" model of parent body evolution. This model cannot explain, however, the absence of type 4 to 6 chondrites with temperatures as low as for type 3.7 to 3.8.


Chromite;Thermal metamorphism;Spinel;Geothermometry

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