Mineralogy and petrography of the Almahata Sitta ureilite


Corresponding author. E-mail: michael.e.zolensky@nasa.gov


Abstract– We performed a battery of analyses on 17 samples of the Almahata Sitta meteorite, identifying three main lithologies and several minor ones present as clasts. The main lithologies are (1) a pyroxene-dominated, very porous, highly reduced lithology, (2) a pyroxene-dominated compact lithology, and (3) an olivine-dominated compact lithology. Although it seems possible that all three lithologies grade smoothly into each other at the kg-scale, at the g-scale this is not apparent. The meteorite is a polymict ureilite, with some intriguing features including exceptionally variable porosity and pyroxene composition. Although augite is locally present in Almahata Sitta, it is a minor phase in most (but not all) samples we have observed. Low-calcium pyroxene (<5 mole% wollastonite) is more abundant than compositionally defined pigeonite; however, we found that even the low-Ca pyroxene in Almahata Sitta has the monoclinic pigeonite crystal structure, and thus is properly termed pigeonite. As the major pyroxene in Almahata Sitta is pigeonite, and the abundance of pigeonite is generally greater than that of olivine, this meteorite might be called a pigeonite-olivine ureilite, rather than the conventional olivine-pigeonite ureilite group. The wide variability of lithologies in Almahata Sitta reveals a complex history, including asteroidal igneous crystallization, impact disruption, reheating and partial vaporization, high-temperature reduction and carbon burning, and re-agglomeration.