Early petrologic processes on the ureilite parent body

Authors

  • S. J. Singletary,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA
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  • T. L. Grove

    1. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA
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*E-mail: jumper@mit.edu

Abstract

Abstract— We present a petrographic and petrologic analysis of 21 olivine-pigeonite ureilites, along with new experimental results on melt compositions predicted to be in equilibrium with ureilite compositions. We conclude that these ureilites are the residues of a partial melting/smelting event. Textural evidence preserved in olivine and pigeonite record the extent of primary smelting. In pigeonite cores, we observe fine trains of iron metal inclusions that formed by the reduction of olivine to pigeonite and metal during primary smelting. Olivine cores lack metal inclusions but the outer grain boundaries are variably reduced by a late-stage reduction event. The modal proportion of pigeonite and percentage of olivine affected by late stage reduction are inversely related and provide an estimation of the degree of primary smelting during ureilite petrogenesis. In our sample suite, this correlation holds for 16 of the 21 samples examined.

Olivine-pigeonite-liquid phase equilibrium constraints are used to obtain temperature estimates for the ureilite samples examined. Inferred smelting temperatures range from ∼1150°C to just over 1300°C and span the range of estimates published for ureilites containing two or more pyroxenes. Temperature is also positively correlated with modal percent pigeonite. Smelting temperature is inversely correlated with smelting depth—the hottest olivine-pigeonite ureilites coming from the shallowest depth in the ureilite parent body. The highest temperature samples also have oxygen isotopic signatures that fall toward the refractory inclusion-rich end of the carbonaceous chondrite-anhydrous mineral (CCAM) slope 1 mixing line. These temperature-depth variations in the ureilite parent body could have been created by a heterogeneous distribution of heat producing elements, which would indicate that isotopic heterogeneities existed in the material from which the ureilite parent body was assembled.

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