Iron deficiency in pyrrhotite of suevites from the Chesapeake Bay impact crater, USA—A consequence of shock metamorphism?




Abstract– Pyrrhotite from suevite of the 35 Ma Chesapeake Bay impact structure (CBIS) shows a shock metamorphism and we report on several mineralogical and magnetic features. Pyrrhotite shows strong brittle deformation with a high density of stacking faults, twinning parallel to the hexagonal (001) planes and average fault distances in the order of 10 nm. Although the determination of a superstructure was not possible due to the lattice defects, the reflections of the NiAs subcell, which is typical of all pyrrhotite modifications, were clearly detected. This phase is ferrimagnetic with a Curie temperature (TC) between 350 and 365 °C, and suevite with this phase does not show the 34 K transition. The most peculiar feature is the low metal/sulfur ratio of 0.81, which indicates a distinctly higher vacancy concentration than for 4C pyrrhotite and a composition close to smythite (Fe9S11). This phase carries a stable natural remanent magnetization and is relatively hard magnetic. Steep inclinations of the natural remanent magnetization vector, however, suggest that this phase has been remagnetized by the drilling process. A possible explanation is the magnetic domain size of faultless areas of about 10 nm in diameter, which is at the lower limit of the single domain size near the threshold, below which superparamagnetic behavior occurs. The low thermal stability of this phase excludes postshock heating above 300 °C for the suevite of the CBIS. Our results imply that the iron-deficient pyrrhotite is produced by shock metamorphism, although an iron loss due to shock has never been reported before for pyrrhotite.