Early aqueous alteration, explosive disruption, and reprocessing of asteroids

Authors

  • L. WILSON,

    Corresponding author
    1. Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96822, USA
    2. Environmental Science Department, Institute of Environmental and Natural Sciences, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YQ, U.K.
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  • K. KEIL,

    1. Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96822, USA
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  • L. B. BROWNING,

    1. Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96822, USA
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  • A. N. KROT,

    1. Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96822, USA
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  • W. BOURCIER

    1. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California 94550, USA
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  • Also associated with the Hawai'i Center for Volcanology

*l.wilson@lancaster.ac.uk

Abstract

Abstract— Several classes of chondritic meteorites experienced heterogeneous aqueous alteration and subsequent brecciation before agglomeration into the final parent bodies. These processes resulted in intimate mixing of materials altered to various degrees. In the past, this mixing has been attributed solely to impact processes. However, our investigation of the physical consequences of aqueous alteration processes in bodies accreting from a mixture of silicate and ice grains shows that aqueous alteration was commonly accompanied by substantial gas production. The asteroids may have become so internally pressurized by these gases that the sudden onset of gas release led to partial or complete disaggregation of the body. In some cases, fragments may have escaped completely from the parent asteroid and could potentially have been incorporated into other accreting asteroids. In other cases, fragments originating from different parts of the initial body, having various sizes and temperatures and exhibiting varying degrees of alteration, may have re-accreted into a second-generation object and undergone further stages of alteration. Such events could have been repeated two or three times during the lifetime of 26Al, the likely heat source for these processes.

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