Martian low-temperature alteration materials in shock-melt pockets in Tissint: Constraints on their preservation in shergottite meteorites

C.R. Kuchka, C.D.K. Herd, E.L. Walton, Y. Guan, Y. Liu

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 8 May 2017


“We apply an array of in situ analytical techniques, including electron and Raman microscopy, electron and ion probe microanalysis, and laser ablation mass spectrometry to the Tissint martian meteorite in order to find and elucidate a geochemical signature characteristic of low-temperature alteration at or near the martian surface. Tissint contains abundant shock-produced quench-crystallized melt pockets containing water in concentrations ranging from 73 to 1730 ppm; water content is positively correlated with Cl content. The isotopic composition of hydrogen in the shock-produced glass ranges from δD = 2559 to 4422 ‰. Water is derived from two distinct hydrogen reservoirs: the martian near-surface (>500 ‰) and the martian mantle (-100 ‰). In one shock melt pocket comprising texturally homogeneous vesiculated glass, the concentration of H in the shock melt decreases while simultaneously becoming enriched in D, attributable to the preferential loss of H over D to the vesicle while the pocket was still molten. While igneous sulfides are pyrrhotite in composition (Fe0.88-0.90S), the iron to sulfur ratios of spherules in shock melt pockets are elevated, up to Fe1.70S, which we attribute to shock-oxidation of igneous pyrrhotite and the formation of hematite at high temperature. The D- and Cl-enrichment, and higher oxidation of the pockets (as indicated by hematite) support a scenario in which alteration products formed within fractures or void spaces within the rock; the signature of these alteration products is preserved within shock melt (now glass) which formed upon collapse of these fractures and voids during impact shock. Thermal modeling of Tissint shock melt pockets using the HEAT program demonstrates that the shock melt pockets with the greatest potential to preserve a signature of aqueous alteration are small, isolated from other regions of shock melt, vesicle-free, and glassy.”