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Petrology of enstatite chondrites and anomalous enstatite achondrites

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Item Summary

Title: Petrology of enstatite chondrites and anomalous enstatite achondrites
Authors: Van Niekerk, Deon
Keywords: enstatite meteorites
enstatite chondrites
anomalous enstatite achondrites
Issue Date: Dec 2012
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2012]
Abstract: Chondrites are meteorites that represent unmelted portions of asteroids. The enstatite chondrites are one class of chondrites. They consist of reduced mineral assemblages that formed under low oxygen fugacity in the solar nebula, prior to accretion into asteroids. There are two groups of enstatite chondrites--EH and EL. I studied EL3 meteorites, which are understood to be unmetamorphosed and thus to only preserve primitive nebular products. I show in a petrographic study that the EL3s are in fact melt--breccias in which impact-melting produced new mineral assemblages and textures in portions of the host chondrites, after accretion. I document metaland sulfide assemblages that are intergrown with silicate minerals (which are often euhedral), and occur outside chondrules; these assemblages probably represent impact-melting products, and are different from those in EH3 chondrites that probably represent nebular products.
In situ siderophile trace element compositions of the metal in EL3s, obtained by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, are consistent with an impact-melting hypothesis. The trace element concentrations show no clear volatility trend, and are thus probably not the result of volatile-driven petrogenetic processes that operated in the solar nebula. Trace element modeling suggests that the character of the trace element patterns together with deviations from the mean bulk EL metal pattern is consistent with metal that crystallized in a coexisting liquid-solid metal system in which dissolved carbon influenced element partitioning.
I also conducted a petrographic and mineral-chemistry study of several anomalous enstatite meteorites. These have igneous textures, but unfractionated mineralogy similar to unmelted chondrites. I show that with the exception of one, the meteorites are related to each other, and probably formed by crystallization from an impact melt instead of metamorphism through the decay of short lived radionuclides.
The broad importance of these studies lies in documenting the petrology of extraterrestrial materials that reveal the geological history of the young solar system prior to the existence of planets. Furthermore, they serve to identify which mineral assemblages record nebular processes and which record processes on asteroids, so that future studies may select the correct material to address particular questions.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Geology and Geophysics

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