Amorphous silicates in the matrix of Semarkona: The first evidence for the localized preservation of pristine matrix materials in the most unequilibrated ordinary chondrites

1E. Dobrică,1A. J. Brearley
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.13458]
1Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, MSC03‐2040, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87131‐0001 USA
Published by Arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

We have investigated the fine‐grained matrix of the least‐altered unequilibrated ordinary chondrite (UOC) Semarkona (LL3.00) using different electron microscope techniques. Unlike previous studies, which found that the matrix of Semarkona was extensively altered to phyllosilicates, we have discovered the widespread occurrence of much more pristine amorphous silicates in the sample that we have studied. Detailed TEM study shows that these materials occur pervasively in the matrix as (1) continuous groundmass; (2) distinct, circular to subrounded features, which contain nanometric‐size sulfides and carbides; or (3) distinct objects containing parallel, linear features composed of sulfides and voids. These amorphous silicates have many textural and compositional similarities to the occurrences of amorphous silicates found in pristine carbonaceous chondrites (CCs); however, minor differences were also identified. Most of the textural and chemical differences suggest that these materials formed at different times and locations in the solar nebula, compared to matrix materials in CCs. Nevertheless, their occurrence suggests that the amorphous silicates in Semarkona formed by similar processes to those proposed for amorphous silicates in CCs, that is, rapid cooling that favored disequilibrium condensation of material evaporated during chondrule‐forming events. In addition, the occurrence of minimally altered amorphous silicates in Semarkona demonstrates that the effects of aqueous alteration, which have been widely described in this meteorite, are not pervasive. Instead, our new observations demonstrate that aqueous alteration has affected Semarkona heterogeneously and that locally, regions of much more pristine matrix that have escaped extensive alteration are still preserved within this meteorite. Such materials provide significant new insights into the pristine characteristics of ordinary chondrite matrix material that has not been previously available.

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