The University of Arizona

Petrology and chemistry of MIL 03346 and its significance in understanding the petrogenesis of nakhlites on Mars

James M. D. Day, Lawrence A. Taylor, Christine Floss, Harry Y. McSween

Abstract


Antarctic meteorite Miller Range (MIL) 03346 is a nakhlite composed of 79% clinopyroxene, ~1% olivine, and 20% vitrophyric intercumulus material. We have performed a petrological and geochemical study of MIL 03346, demonstrating a petrogenetic history similar to previously discovered nakhlites. Quantitative textural study of MIL 03346 indicates long (>1 x 101 yr) residence times for the cumulus augite, whereas the skeletal Fe-Ti oxide, fayalite, and sulfide in the vitrophyric intercumulus matrix suggest rapid cooling, probably as a lava flow. From the relatively high forsterite contents of olivine (up to Fo43) compared with other nakhlites and compositions of augite cores (Wo38-42En35-40Fs22-28) and their hedenbergite rims, we suggest that MIL 03346 is part of the same or a similar Martian cumulate-rich lava flow as other nakhlites. However, MIL 03346 has experienced less equilibration and faster cooling than other nakhlites discovered to date. Calculated trace element concentrations based upon modal abundances of MIL 03346 and its constituent minerals are identical to whole rock trace element abundances. Parental melts for augite have REE patterns that are approximately parallel with whole rock and intercumulus melt using experimentally defined partition coefficients. This parallelism reflects closed-system crystallization for MIL 03346, where the only significant petrogenetic process between formation of augite and eruption and emplacement of the nakhlite flow has been fractional crystallization. A model for the petrogenesis of MIL 03346 and the nakhlites (Nakhla, Governador Valadares, Lafayette, Yamato-000593, Northwest Africa (NWA) 817, NWA 998) would include: 1) partial melting and ascent of melt generated from a long-term LREE depleted mantle source, 2) crystallization of cumulus augite (┬▒olivine, ┬▒magnetite) in a shallow-level Martian magma chamber, 3) eruption of the crystal-laden nakhlite magma onto the surface of Mars, 4) cooling, crystal settling, overgrowth, and partial equilibration to different extents within the flow, 5) secondary alteration through hydrothermal processes, possibly immediately succeeding or during emplacement of the flow. This model might apply to single - or multiple - flow models for the nakhlites. Ultimately, MIL 03346 and the other nakhlites preserve a record of magmatic processes in volcanic rocks on Mars with analogous petrogenetic histories to pyroxene-rich terrestrial lava flows and to komatiites.

Keywords


martian Meteorites;nakhlites;Volcanism;Petrology;Rare earth element (REE)

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