Constraints on the emplacement of Martian nakhlite igneous rocks and their source volcano from advanced micro-petrofabric analysis

1S.Griffin et al. (>10)
Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets)(in Press) Open Access Link to Article []
1School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

The Martian nakhlite meteorites, which represent multiple events that belong to a single magma source region represent a key opportunity to study the evolution of Martian petrogenesis. Here 16 of the 26 identified nakhlite specimens are studied using coupled electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) and emplacement end-member calculations. EBSD was used to determine shape preferred orientation (SPO) of contained augite (high Ca-clinopyroxene) phenocrysts by considering their crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO). Parameters derived from EBSD, and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) data were used in basic emplacement models to assess their dominant mechanism against three end-member scenarios: thermal diffusion, crystal settling, and crystal convection. Results from CPO analyses indicate low intensity weak-moderate CPO. In all samples, a consistent foliation within the <001> axes of augite are observed typically coupled with a weaker lineation CPO in one of the other crystallographic axes. These CPO results agree best with crystal settling being the dominant emplacement mechanism for the nakhlites. Modelled crystal settling results identify two distinguishable groups outside of the model’s resolution indicating the presence of secondary emplacement mechanisms. Comparison of the two identified groups against petrofabric, geochemical, and age parameters indicate random variability between individual meteorites. Therefore, coupled petrofabric and emplacement modelling results identify an overarching characteristic of a dominant crystal settling emplacement mechanism for the nakhlite source volcano despite exhibiting random variation with each discharge through time.


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