Petrography, mineral chemistry, and crystallization history of olivine-phyric shergottite NWA 6234: A new melt composition


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Knowledge of Martian igneous and mantle compositions is crucial for understanding Mars' mantle evolution, including early differentiation, mantle convection, and the chemical alteration at the surface. Primitive magmas provide the most direct information about their mantle source regions, but most Martian meteorites either contain cumulate olivine or crystallized from fractionated melts. The new Martian meteorite Northwest Africa (NWA) 6234 is an olivine-phyric shergottite. Its most magnesian olivine cores (Fo78) are in Mg-Fe equilibrium with a magma of the bulk rock composition, suggesting that it represents a melt composition. Thermochemical calculations show that NWA 6234 not only represents a melt composition but is a primitive melt derived from an approximately Fo80 mantle. Thus, NWA 6234 is similar to NWA 5789 and Y 980459 in the sense that all three are olivine-phyric shergottites and represent primitive magma compositions. However, NWA 6234 is of special significance because it represents the first olivine-phyric shergottite from a primitive ferroan magma. On the basis of Al/Ti ratio of pyroxenes in NWA 6234, the minor components in olivine and merrillite, and phosphorus zoning of olivine, we infer that the rock crystallized completely at pressures consistent with conditions in Mars' upper crust. The textural intergrowths of the two phosphates (merrillite and apatite) indicate that at a very last stage of crystallization, merrillite reacted with an OH-Cl-F-rich melt to form apatite. As this meteorite crystallized completely at depth and never erupted, it is likely that its apatite compositions represent snapshots of the volatile ratios of the source region without being affected by degassing processes, which contain high OH-F content.