Experimental petrology of the basaltic shergottite Yamato-980459: Implications for the thermal structure of the Martian mantle



Abstract— The Martian meteorite Yamato (Y-) 980459 is an olivine-phyric shergottite. It has a very primitive character and may be a primary melt of the Martian mantle. We have conducted crystallization experiments on a synthetic Y-980459 composition at Martian upper mantle conditions in order to test the primary mantle melt hypothesis. Results of these experiments indicate that the cores of the olivine megacrysts in Y-980459 are in equilibrium with a melt of bulk rock composition, suggesting that these megacrysts are in fact phenocrysts that grew from a magma of the bulk rock composition. Multiple saturation of the melt with olivine and a low-calcium pyroxene occurs at approximately 12 ± 0.5 kbar and 1540 ± 10°C, suggesting that the meteorite represents a primary melt that separated from its mantle source at a depth of ˜100 km. Several lines of evidence suggest that the Y-980459 source underwent extensive melting prior to and/or during the magmatic event that produced the Y-980459 parent magma. When factored into convective models of the Martian interior, the high temperature indicated for the upper Martian mantle and possibly high melt fraction for the Y-980459 magmatic event suggests a significantly higher temperature at the core-mantle boundary than previously estimated.