The University of Arizona

39Ar-40Ar dating of the Zagami Martian shergottite and implications for magma origin of excess 40Ar



The Zagami shergottite experienced a complex, petrogenetic formation history (McCoy et al. 1992, 1999). Like several shergottites, Zagami contains excess 40Ar relative to its formation age. To understand the origin of this excess 40Ar, we made 39Ar-40Ar analyses on plagioclase and pyroxene minerals from two phases representing different stages in the magma evolution. Surprisingly, all these separates show similar concentrations of excess 40Ar, ~1 x 10^(-6) cm^(3)/g. We present arguments against this excess 40Ar having been introduced from the Martian atmosphere as impact glass. We also present evidence against excess 40Ar being a partially degassed residue from a basalt that actually formed ~4 Gyr ago. We utilize our experimental data on Ar diffusion in Zagami and evidence that it was shock-heated to only ~70 °C, and we assume this heating occurred during an ejection from Mars ~3 Myr ago. With these constraints, thermal considerations necessitates either that its ejected mass was impossibly large, or that its shock-heating temperature was an order of magnitude higher than that measured. We suggest that this excess 40Ar was inherited from the Zagami magma, and that it was introduced into the magma either by degassing of a larger volume of material or by early assimilation of old, K-rich crustal material. Similar concentrations of excess 40Ar in the analyzed separates imply that this magma maintained a relatively constant 40Ar concentration throughout its crystallization. This likely occurred through volatile degassing as the magma rose toward the surface and lithostatic pressure was released. These concepts have implications for excess 40Ar in other shergottites.


Ar-Ar Ages;Dating;Martian meteorite Zagami;Diffusion coefficient

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