skip to main content

Title: Size‐frequency distributions and physical properties of chondrules from x‐ray computed microtomography and digital data extraction
Abstract Highlights

We present a first true three‐dimensional analysis of chondrule size.

Our ordinary chondrite chondrule diameter data demonstrate the trend of mean chondrule diameters increasing in the order H chondrites < L chondrites < LL chondrites.

We also present the first detailed low‐iron enstatite chondrite chondrule size‐frequency distribution.

We examine the shapes and collective orientations of the chondrules and show that chondrite petrofabrics can be explored with our methodology.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Microscopy Research and Technique
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 1814-1824
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    We present the results of our study of two thin sections of Pecora Escarpment (PCA) 91020, a heavily shocked EL3 chondrite, to characterize the sizes, shapes, orientations, and mineral compositions of its chondrules and opaque nodules. We also studied the mildly shocked Queen Alexandra Range (QUE) 94594 EL3 chondrite for comparison. PCA 91020 appears to show the evidence of deformation throughout the meteorite in both the chondrules and the opaque (metal–sulfide) nodules. Aspect ratios of the chondrules in PCA 91020 are greater than in the mildly shocked QUE 94594. Aspect ratios of the more ductile metal grains are higher than those of the chondrules in both sections of PCA 91020 and in QUE 94594. The data suggest that the chondrules and metal‐rich nodules in PCA 91020 were elongated (flattened) to a greater degree and show a preferred orientation in comparison to objects in typical EL3 chondrites such as QUE 94594. The chondrule and metal‐rich nodule deformation and foliation in PCA 91020 were likely produced by an impact on the EL3 asteroid. However, there are some inconsistencies in reconciling an impact hypothesis with all of the observations. Scenarios of hot accretion and/or overburden compaction during progressive (potentially rapid, hot) accretion to explain the deformation cannot be completely ruled out. Also, heavily shocked E3 chondrites, like PCA 91020, are relatively rare, suggesting the impacts that may have compacted chondrites, although potentially frequent, were of weak magnitude.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    We investigated the metal‐rich chondrite Sierra Gorda (SG) 009, a member of the new G chondrite grouplet (also including NWA 5492, GRO 95551). G chondrites contain 23% metal, very reduced silicates, and rare oxidized mineral phases (Mg‐chromite, FeO‐rich pyroxene). G chondrites are not related to CH‐CB chondrites, based on bulk O, C, and N isotopic compositions, mineralogy, and geochemistry. G chondrites have no fine‐grained matrix or matrix lumps enclosing hydrated material typical for CH‐CB chondrites. G chondrites’ average metal compositions are similar to H chondrites. Siderophile and lithophile geochemistry indicates sulfidization and fractionation of the SG 009 metal and silicates, unlike NWA 5492 and GRO 95551. The G chondrites have average O isotopic compositions Δ17O>0‰ ranging between bulk enstatite (E) and ordinary (O) chondrites. An Al‐rich chondrule from SG 009 has Δ17O>0‰ indicating some heterogeneity in oxygen isotopic composition of G chondrite components. SG 009’s bulk carbon and nitrogen isotopic compositions correspond to E and O chondrites. Neon isotopic composition reflects a mixture of cosmogenic and solar components, and cosmic ray exposure age of SG 009 is typical for O, E, and R chondrites. G chondrites are closely related to O, E, and R chondrites and may represent a unique metal‐rich parent asteroid containing primitive and fractionated material from the inner solar system. Oxidizing and reducing conditions during SG 009 formation may be connected with a chemical microenvironment and possibly could indicate that G chondrites may have formed by a planetesimal collision resulting in the lack of matrix.

    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    Dynamic models of the protoplanetary disk indicate there should be large-scale material transport in and out of the inner Solar System, but direct evidence for such transport is scarce. Here we show that the ε 50 Ti-ε 54 Cr-Δ 17 O systematics of large individual chondrules, which typically formed 2 to 3 My after the formation of the first solids in the Solar System, indicate certain meteorites (CV and CK chondrites) that formed in the outer Solar System accreted an assortment of both inner and outer Solar System materials, as well as material previously unidentified through the analysis of bulk meteorites. Mixing with primordial refractory components reveals a “missing reservoir” that bridges the gap between inner and outer Solar System materials. We also observe chondrules with positive ε 50 Ti and ε 54 Cr plot with a constant offset below the primitive chondrule mineral line (PCM), indicating that they are on the slope ∼1.0 in the oxygen three-isotope diagram. In contrast, chondrules with negative ε 50 Ti and ε 54 Cr increasingly deviate above from PCM line with increasing δ 18 O, suggesting that they are on a mixing trend with an ordinary chondrite-like isotope reservoir. Furthermore, the Δ 17 O-Mg# systematics of these chondrules indicate they formed in environments characterized by distinct abundances of dust and H 2 O ice. We posit that large-scale outward transport of nominally inner Solar System materials most likely occurred along the midplane associated with a viscously evolving disk and that CV and CK chondrules formed in local regions of enhanced gas pressure and dust density created by the formation of Jupiter. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    We studied a thin section of Lewis Cliff (LEW) 87223, an unusual EL3‐related, enstatite chondrite (EC) that has primary and secondary features not observed in other ECs. We studied its metal‐rich nodules, possible shock features, and chondrules, eight of which are Al‐rich chondrules (ARCs). LEW 87223 has petrologic and compositional features similar to EL3s. Enstatite is the dominant mineral; chondrule boundaries are well defined; Si content of metal (0.5–0.6 wt%) is consistent with typical EL3; it has Cr‐bearing troilite, oldhamite, and alabandite; and its O‐isotopic composition is similar to other ECs. However, metal abundance in LEW 87223 (~13 vol%) is slightly higher than in other EL3s and its metal nodules are texturally and mineralogically different from other ECs. Both high and low Ni metals are present, and its alabandite has higher Fe (27.8 wt% Fe) than in other EL3s. Silicates appear darkened in plane polarized light, largely due to reduction of Fe from silicate. A remarkable feature of LEW 87223 is the high abundance of ARCs, which contain Ca‐rich plagioclase and varying amounts of Na‐rich plagioclase along chondrule edges and as veins. This suggests Na metasomatism and the possibility of hydrothermal fluids, potentially related to an impact event. LEW 87223 expands the range of known EC material. It shows that ECs are more diverse and record a wider range of parent body processes than previously known. LEW 87223 is an anomalous EL3, potentially the first member of a new EC group should similar samples be discovered.

    more » « less

    Extraterrestrial chrome spinel and chromite extracted from the sedimentary rock record are relicts from coarse micrometeorites and rarely meteorites. They are studied to reconstruct the paleoflux of meteorites to the Earth and the collisional history of the asteroid belt. Minor element concentrations of Ti and V, and oxygen isotopic compositions of these relict minerals were used to classify the meteorite type they stem from, and thus to determine the relative meteorite group abundances through time. While coarse sediment‐dispersed extraterrestrial chrome‐spinel (SEC) grains from ordinary chondrites dominate through the studied time windows in the Phanerozoic, there are exceptions: We have shown that ~467 Ma ago, 1 Ma before the breakup of the L chondrite parent body (LCPB), more than half of the largest (>63 μm diameter) grains were achondritic and originated from differentiated asteroids in contrast to ordinary chondrites which dominated the meteorite flux throughout most of the past 500 Ma. Here, we present a new data set of oxygen isotopic compositions and elemental compositions of 136 grains of a smaller size fraction (32–63 μm) in ~467 Ma old pre‐LCPB limestone from the Lynna River section in western Russia, that was previously studied by elemental analysis. Our study constitutes the most comprehensive oxygen isotopic data set of sediment‐dispersed extraterrestrial chrome spinel to date. We also introduce a Raman spectroscopy‐based method to identify SEC grains and distinguish them from terrestrial chrome spinel with ~97% reliability. We calibrated the Raman method with the established approach using titanium and vanadium concentrations and oxygen isotopic compositions. We find that ordinary chondrites are approximately three times more abundant in the 32–63 μm fraction than achondrites. While abundances of achondrites compared to ordinary chondrites are lower in the 32–63 μm size fraction than in the >63 μm one, achondrites are approximately three times more abundant in the 32–62 μm fraction than they are in the present flux. We find that the sources of SEC grains vary for different grain sizes, mainly as a result of parent body thermal metamorphism. We conclude that the meteorite flux composition ~467 Ma ago ~1 Ma before the breakup of the LCPB was fundamentally different from today and from other time windows studied in the Phanerozoic, but that in contrast to the large size fraction ordinary chondrites dominated the flux in the small size fraction. The high abundance of ordinary chondrites in the studied samples is consistent with the findings based on coarse extraterrestrial chrome‐spinel from other time windows.

    more » « less