Heterogeneous Shock Effects in NWA 8159: a Unique new Martian Meteorite
Friday, 19 December 2014
NWA 8159 is a olivine-bearing, fine-grained augite basalt from Mars with SNC-like oxygen isotopes and Fe/Mn values. The sample consists of augite, plagioclase (An50-65), olivine (Fa61-76), magnetite and minor orthopyroxene. NWA 8159 has several mm-thick shock-melt veins that have crystallized to a fine-grained granular mixture of silicate and sulfide with a texture unlike that seen in other shocked meteorites. Raman spectra from the veins suggest a Ca-rich garnet in the veins. Although the shock effects in this sample are similar to those of other Martian meteorites, the plagioclase remains anisotropic (crystalline) with polysynthetic twinning and fractures throughout much of the sample. In the vicinity of shock veins, the plagioclase is isotropic and stoichiometric with undisturbed grain boundaries and no fractures. Some plagioclase in contact with shock melt has transformed to tissintite (Ca-jadelite like pyroxene). Fayalitic olivine is partially transformed to ahrensite (spinel) in contact with shock melt. As in several other shocked Martian meteorites, olivine is also transformed into a nanometer-scale mixture of oxide and silicate. Raman spectra from these areas are consistent with the presence of magnetite, rather than magnesiowüstite, as seen in other samples. Minor quartz grains have radiating fractures through the surrounding minerals indicative of partial back transformation from a high-density phase. Raman spectra from this material indicates stishovite and coesite. The coexistence of crystalline plagioclase and maskelynite suggests a moderate shock pressure of 16 – 23 GPa. However, the association of maskelynite and other transformation features with shock veins indicates the importance of high temperatures in creating heterogeneous shock features. Nanometer-scale mineralogy and transformation nano-structures will be investigated in FIB sections with analytical TEM to better constrain the mineralogy, transformation mechanisms and shock conditions.