The University of Arizona

Micro-Raman spectroscopic study of fine-grained, shock-metamorphosed rock fragments from the Australasian microtektite layer



Shock-metamorphosed rock fragments have been found in the Australasian microtektite layer from the South China Sea. Previous X-ray diffraction (XRD) studies indicate that the most abundant crystalline phases in the rock fragments are coesite, quartz, and a 10 Å  phase (mica/clay?). In addition, the presence of numerous other phases was suggested by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis. In the present research, ten of the rock fragments, which had previously been studied using SEM/EDX, were studied by micro-Raman spectroscopy. The presence of K-feldspar, plagioclase, rutile, ilmenite, titanite, magnetite, calcite, and dolomite were confirmed. In addition, the high-pressure TiO2 polymorph with an α-PbO2 structure (i.e., TiO2II) was found in several rock fragments. Two grains previously thought to have been zircon, based on their compositions, were found to have Raman spectra that do not match the Raman spectra of zircon, reidite, or any of the possible decomposition products of zircon or their high-pressure polymorphs. We speculate that the ZrSiO4 phase might be a previously unknown high-pressure polymorph of zircon or one of its decomposition products (i.e., ZrO2 or SiO2). The presence of coesite and TiO2 II, and partial melting and vesiculation suggest that the rock fragments containing the unknown ZrSiO4 phase must have experienced shock pressures between 45 and 60 GPa. We conclude that micro-Raman spectroscopy, in combination with XRD and SEM/EDX, is a powerful tool for the study of small, fine-grained impact ejecta.


shock metamorphism;Australasian strewn field;impact ejecta;coesite

Full Text: