Grosvenor Mountains 95 howardite pairing group: Insights into the surface regolith of asteroid 4 Vesta.

Lunning, N. G., Welten, K. C., McSween, H. Y., Caffee, M. W. and Beck, A. W.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12580
Article first published online: 16 DEC 2015


“Regolithic howardites are analogs for the surface materials of asteroid 4 Vesta, recently mapped by the Dawn spacecraft. Rigorously evaluating pairing of howardites recovered in 1995 in the Grosvenor Mountains (GRO 95), Antarctica, enables an examination of a larger, more representative regolith sample. Previous work on two of the howardites studied here concluded that GRO 95602 and GRO 95535 are solar wind-rich surface regolith samples and that they are not paired with each other, leading to uncertainty regarding pairing relationships between the other GRO 95 howardites. Based on petrology, cosmic-ray exposure history, and terrestrial age, four GRO 95 howardites are paired. The paired howardites (GRO 95534, 95535, 95574, 95581) were from a meteoroid with radius of 10–15 cm, a preatmospheric size comparable to that of Kapoeta, the largest known regolithic howardite. The paired GRO 95 howardites contain clasts of at least 18 separate HED lithologies, providing evidence they were assembled from diverse source materials. The total eucrite:diogenite mixing ratio (ratio of all eucrite lithologies to all diogenite lithologies) in the paired GRO 95 howardites is ~2:1. Petrographically determined basaltic eucrite:cumulate eucrite ratios in regolithic howardites, studied here and previously, vary more widely than total eucrite:diogenite ratios. Relative to eucritic pyroxene, plagioclase is depleted in these howardites, which provides evidence that plagioclase is preferentially comminuted in the vestan regolith. The extent of plagioclase depletion could be an indicator of regolith maturity.”