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Timescales and Conditions for the Aqueous Alteration of Chondrites

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Item Summary

Title: Timescales and Conditions for the Aqueous Alteration of Chondrites
Authors: Jilly, Christine
Keywords: Meteorites
Carbonaceous Chondrites
Solar System Formation
Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry
Issue Date: Aug 2015
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2015]
Abstract: It has become well-recognized that water played a critical role in the early geological evolution of materials through observation of hydrated phases in chondritic meteorites. However, details about the mechanism, timing, and conditions of aqueous alteration are poorly constrained. This dissertation investigates water-driven processes in Renazzo-like (CR) carbonaceous chondrites, with some comparison to the heavily altered and Mighei-like (CM) chondrites. CR chondrites were chosen as the focus of this study, as they are the only chondrite group to range from practically anhydrous to completely hydrated, providing petrographic context for the aqueous alteration process.
The central goal of the thesis is to elucidate the complete mechanism of aqueous alteration, from primary anhydrous components to secondary minerals. This research uses a variety of micro-analytical techniques to address three main objectives: 1) to detail the petrographic context, 2) to quantify the onset and duration of alteration using radiometric dating, and 3) to constrain the fluid chemistry and conditions for aqueous alteration. On a microscopic scale, fine-grained matrices and glassy mesostases were the first phases to become altered, allowing for elemental transport over short distances (< 100 microns). As alteration progressed, the iron-metal was oxidized, and silicate phenocrysts were pseudomorphically replaced. 53Mn-53Cr radiometric dating of secondary carbonates in CR chondrites show that aqueous alteration began quickly after accretion of the parent body, ~4 Myr after the beginning of the Solar System. This is contemporaneous with dolomite formation in the CM chondrite Sutter’s Mill and with carbonate formation in other CM chondrites. However, the calcite age from a heavily hydrated CR lithology indicates that late-stage alteration occurred ~12 Myr after the beginning of the Solar System. The oxygen isotopic compositions of magnetite and carbonate minerals reveal that altering fluid evolved toward lighter oxygen composition as alteration progressed on the CR parent body. Oxygen isotope geothermometry indicates low precipitation temperatures (near ~40˚C) for CR alteration assemblages. Simple geochemical models of secondary assemblages reveal that alteration occurred under neutral to alkaline pH (>7), and under high H2S fugacity relative to O2. This research shows that the aqueous alteration process was spatially variable on the CR parent body, and that the localized environmental conditions contributed to unique alteration assemblages.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Geology and Geophysics

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