The University of Arizona

Sahara 03505 sulfide-rich iron meteorite: Evidence for efficient segregation of sulfide-rich metallic melt during high-degree impact melting of an ordinary chondrite



The Sahara 03505 meteorite is a 65 g sulfide-rich iron found in an undisclosed locality of the Sahara. It consists of roughly equal volumetric proportion of polycrystalline troilite (crystal size 1.5-7.5 mm) enclosing cellular/dendritic metallic Fe-Ni (width of the dendrite arms, ~100 m). The mineral assemblage is completed by sparse skeletal crystals of chromite, abundant droplets, 5-100 μm in size, of anhydrous Fe-, Fe-Na-, and Fe-Mn-Mg-Ca-Na-K-phosphates, tiny crystals of schreibersite, and particles of metallic Cu. The medium- to fine-grained quench texture, and cooling modeling suggest that Sahara 03505 formed through crystallization of a sulfur-rich metallic melt under rapid cooling conditions (1-4 °C s^(-1)). The low troilite/metallic Fe-Ni ratio (~0.6 by weight) shows that this liquid was generated at much higher temperatures (>1300 °C) with respect to the FeS-Fe,Ni cotectic liquids. Based on bulk chemistry and oxygen isotope composition of chromite, we propose that Sahara 03505 formed by extensive impact melting of an ordinary chondrite lithology, followed by the efficient segregation of the immiscible silicate and metallic liquids. The sulfur-rich metallic liquid rapidly cooled either by radiation into space as a small lump, or by conduction to a chondrite country rock as a vein intruded into the walls of an impact crater. Sahara 03505 belongs to a small group of sulfide-rich iron meteorites which are characterized by medium- to fine-grained quench textures and by bulk chemistry that is different from the other iron meteorite groups. We propose here to use the descriptive term sulfide-irons for this meteorite group, by analogy with the stony-irons.


Shock melt;iron Meteorites;Metal-silicate fractionation;Iron sulfide

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