Immiscible silicate liquids and phosphoran olivine in Netschaëvo IIE silicate: analogue for planetesimal core–mantle boundaries

Nadia Van Roosbroek, Christopher Hamann, Seann McKibbin, Ansgar Greshake, Richard Wirth, Lidia Pittarello, Lutz Hecht, Philippe Claeys, Vinciane Debaille

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 2 November 2016


“We have investigated a piece of the Netschaëvo IIE iron meteorite containing a silicate inclusion by means of electron microprobe analysis (EMPA) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Netschaëvo contains chondrule-bearing clasts and impact melt rock clasts were also recently found. The examined inclusion belongs to the latter and is characterized by a porphyritic texture dominated by clusters of coarse-grained olivine and pyroxene, set in a fine-grained groundmass that consists of new crystals of olivine and a hyaline matrix. This matrix material has a quasi-basaltic composition in the inner part of the inclusion, whereas the edge of the inclusion has a lower SiO2 concentration and is enriched in MgO, P2O5, CaO, and FeO. Close to the metal host, the inclusion also contains euhedral Mg-chromite crystals and small (<2 μm), Si-rich globules. A TEM foil was cut from this glassy, silico-phosphate material. It shows that the material consists of elongated olivine crystallites containing up to 14 wt% P2O5, amorphous material, and interstitial Cl-apatite crystals. The Si-rich silicate glass globules show a second population of Fe-rich silicate glass droplets, indicating they formed by silicate liquid immiscibility. Together with the presence of phosphoran olivine and quenched Cl-apatite, these textures suggest rapid cooling and quenching as a consequence of an impact event. Moreover, the enrichment of phosphorus in the silicate inclusion close to the metal host (phosphoran olivine and Cl-apatite) indicates that phosphorus re-partitioned from the metal into the silicate phase upon cooling. This probably also took place in pallasite meteorites that contain late-crystallizing phases rich in phosphorus. Moreover, our findings suggest that oxidation of phosphorus might be a general process in core–mantle environments, bearing on our understanding of planetesimal evolution. Thus, the Netschaëvo sample serves as a natural planetesimal core–mantle boundary experiment and based on our temperature estimates, the following sequence of events takes place: (i) precipitation of olivine (1400–1360°C), (ii) re-partitioning of phosphorus from the metal into the silicate phase, and (iii) formation of immiscible melts (1230–1115°C)."