Shock experiments up to 30 GPa and their consequences on microstructures and magnetic properties in pyrrhotite


C. Mang, Institut für Angewandte Geowissenschaften, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, Adenauerring 20, Geb. 50.40, D-76131 Karlsruhe. E-mail:


[1] Shock experiments with pressures ranging from 3 to 30 GPa have been conducted on a mixed assemblage of hexagonal and monoclinic pyrrhotite. All samples were studied with respect to their particular shock-induced microstructures and magnetic properties at high and low temperatures. Up to 8 GPa, microstructures in shocked pyrrhotite are characterized by mechanical deformation producing a damage of the crystal structure. At pressures of 20 GPa and upward, amorphization and mechanical twinning are the dominant structural features induced by shock. Within the lower-pressure range coercivity, saturation isothermal remanent magnetization and coercivity of remanence increase with shock pressures, in agreement with more single-domain (SD)-like behavior. Simultaneously, the λ-peak of hexagonal pyrrhotite decreases and the 34 K transition of monoclinic pyrrhotite broadens and is depressed. Magnetic hardening is triggered by grain-size reduction, but also by the formation of SD within discrete multidomain grains. Planar deformation features subdivide such multidomain grains into lath-shaped domains with average sizes lying in the SD range. The planar deformation features disappear at 20 GPa and irregular, nanometer-sized “amorphous domains” occur instead. Pressure release from 30 GPa finally triggers partial melting of pyrrhotite. The sharp interfaces between molten and crystalline pyrrhotite document a rapid change of thermal conditions. Within molten pyrrhotite, quenched iron crystals occur. The presence of native iron strongly influences the magnetic properties, depending on the particular amount in the studied sample and likely affects the magnetic properties of impact lithologies on Earth and extraterrestrial material.