Comparisons of the four Miller Range nakhlites, MIL 03346, 090030, 090032 and 090136: Textural and compositional observations of primary and secondary mineral assemblages


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Abstract– Petrological and geochemical analyses of Miller Range (MIL) 03346 indicate that this meteorite originated from the same augitic cumulate layer(s) as the nakhlite Martian meteorites, but underwent rapid cooling prior to complete crystallization. As with the other nakhlites, MIL 03346 contains a secondary alteration assemblage, in this case consisting of iddingsite-like alteration veins in olivine phenocrysts, Fe-oxide alteration veins associated with the mesostasis, and Ca- and K,Fe-sulfate veins. We compared the textural and mineralogical compositions of MIL 090030, 090032, and 090136 with MIL 03346, focusing on the composition and Raman spectra of the alteration assemblages. These observations indicate that the meteorites are paired, and that the preterrestrial olivine-bound alteration assemblages were produced by weakly acidic brine. Although these alteration assemblages resemble similar assemblages in Nakhla, the absence of siderite and halite in the Miller Range nakhlites indicates that the parental alteration brine was comparatively HCO3 depleted, and less concentrated, than that which altered Nakhla. This indicates that the Miller Range nakhlite alteration brine experienced a separate evolutionary pathway to that which altered Nakhla, and therefore represents a separate branch of the Lafayette-Nakhla evaporation sequence. Thin-sections cut from the internal portions of these meteorites (away from any fusion crust or terrestrially exposed edge), contain little Ca-sulfate (identified as gypsum), and no jarosite, whereas thin-sections with terrestrially exposed edges have much higher sulfate abundances. These observations suggest that at least the majority of sulfate within the Miller Range nakhlites is terrestrially derived.