Microchondrules in three unequilibrated ordinary chondrites

Bigolski, J. N., Weisberg, M. K., Connolly, H. C. and Ebel, D. S.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12585
Article first published online: 8 JAN 2016


“We report on a suite of microchondrules from three unequilibrated ordinary chondrites (UOCs). Microchondrules, a subset of chondrules that are ubiquitous components of UOCs, commonly occur in fine-grained chondrule rims, although may also occur within matrix. Microchondrules have a variety of textures: cryptocrystalline, microporphyritic, radial, glassy. In some cases, their textures, and in many cases, their compositions, are similar to their larger host chondrules. Bulk compositions for both chondrule populations frequently overlap. The primary material that composes many of the microchondrules has compositions that are pyroxene-normative and is similar to low-Ca-pyroxene phenocrysts from host chondrules; primary material rarely resembles olivine or plagioclase. Some microchondrules are composed of FeO-rich material that has compositions similar to the bulk submicron fine-grained rim material. These microchondrules, however, are not a common compositional type and probably represent secondary FeO-enrichment. Microchondrules may also be porous, suggestive of degasing to form vesicles. Our work shows that the occurrence of microchondrules in chondrule rims is an important constraint that needs to be considered when evaluating chondrule-forming mechanisms. We propose that microchondrules represent melted portions of the chondrule surfaces and/or the melt products of coagulated dust in the immediate vicinity of the larger chondrules. We suggest that, through recycling events, the outer surfaces of chondrules were heated enough to allow microchondrules to bud off as protuberances and become entrained in the surrounding dusty environment as chondrules were accreting fine-grained rims. Microchondrules are thus byproducts of cyclic processing of chondrules in localized environments. Their occurrence in fine-grained rims represents a snapshot of the chondrule-forming environment. We evaluate mechanisms for microchondrule formation and hypothesize a potential link between the emergence of type II chondrules in the early solar system and the microchondrule-bearing fine-grained rims surrounding type I chondrules.”