The University of Arizona

39Ar-40Ar ages and origin of excess 40Ar in Martian shergottites



We report new 39Ar-40Ar measurements on 15 plagioclase, pyroxene, and/or whole rock samples of 8 Martian shergottites. All age spectra suggest ages older than the meteorite formation ages, as defined by Sm-Nd and Rb-Sr isochrons. Employing isochron plots, only Los Angeles plagioclase and possibly Northwest Africa (NWA) 3171 plagioclase give ages in agreement with their formation ages. Isochrons for all shergottite samples reveal the presence of trapped Martian 40Ar(40Arxs), which exists in variable amounts in different lattice locations. Some 40Arxs is uniformly distributed throughout the lattice, resulting in a positive isochron intercept, and other 40Arxs occurs in association with K-bearing minerals and increases the isochron slope. These samples demonstrate situations where linear Ar isochrons give false ages that are too old. After subtracting 40Ar* that would accumulate by 40K decay since meteorite formation and small amounts of terrestrial 40Ar, all young age samples give similar 40Arxs concentrations of ~1-2 x 10^(-6) cm^3/g, but a variation in K content by a factor of ~80. Previously reported NASA Johnson Space Center data for Zagami, Shergotty, Yamato (Y-) 000097, Y-793605, and Queen Alexandra Range (QUE) 94201 shergottites show similar concentrations of 40Arxs to the new meteorite data reported here. Similar 40Arxs in different minerals and meteorites cannot be explained as arising from Martian atmosphere carried in strongly shocked phases such as melt veins. We invoke the explanation given by Bogard and Park (2008) for Zagami, that this 40Arxs in shergottites was acquired from the magma. Similarity in 40Arxs among shergottites may reveal common magma sources and/or similar magma generation and emplacement processes.


Argon;Shergottite(s) Meteorites;Ar-Ar Age(s)

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