Impact-induced brittle deformation, porosity loss, and aqueous alteration in the Murchison CM chondrite

Romy D. Hanna, Richard A. Ketcham, Mike Zolensky, Whitney Behr

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 14 September 2015


“X-ray computed tomographic scanning of a 44 g Murchison stone (USNM 5487) reveals a preferred alignment of deformed, partially altered chondrules, which define a prominent foliation and weak lineation in 3D. The presence of a lineation and evidence for a component of rotational, noncoaxial shear suggest that the deformation was caused by impact. Olivine optical extinction indicates that the sample can be classified as shock stage S1, and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) and electron microscopy reveal that plastic deformation within the chondrules was minimal and that brittle deformation in the form of fracturing, cataclasis, and grain boundary sliding was the dominant microstructural strain-accommodating mechanism. Textural evidence such as serpentine veins parallel to the foliation fabric and crosscutting alteration veins strongly suggest that some aqueous alteration post-dated or was contemporaneous with the deformation and that multiple episodes of fracturing and mineralization occurred. Finally, using the deformed shape of the chondrules we estimate that the strain experienced by Murchison was 17-43%. This combined with the current measured porosity of Murchison suggests that the original bulk porosity of Murchison prior to its deformation was 32.2 – 53.4% and likely at the upper end of this range due to chondrule compressibility, providing a unique estimate of pre-deformation porosity for a carbonaceous chondrite. Our findings suggest that significant porosity loss, deformation, and compaction from impact can occur on chondrite parent bodies whose samples may record only a low level of shock, and that significant chondrule deformation resulting in a chondrite foliation fabric can occur primarily through brittle processes and does not require plastic deformation of grains.”

update (Jan 2,2016):
Impacting the Properties of Asteroids
Written by Linda M. V. Martel, Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, for Planetary Science Research Discoveries (PSRD)