Elephant Moraine 96029, a very mildly aqueously altered and heated CM carbonaceous chondrite: implications for the drivers of parent body processingOPEN ACCESS 

Martin R. Lee, Paula Lindgren, Ashley J. King, Richard C. Greenwood, Ian A. Franchi, Robert Sparkes

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 10 May 2016


“Elephant Moraine (EET) 96029 is a CM carbonaceous chondrite regolith breccia with evidence for unusually mild aqueous alteration, a later phase of heating and terrestrial weathering. The presence of phyllosilicates and carbonates within chondrules and the fine-grained matrix indicates that this meteorite was aqueously altered in its parent body. Features showing that water-mediated processing was arrested at a very early stage include a matrix with a low magnesium/iron ratio, chondrules whose mesostasis contains glass and/or quench crystallites, and a gehlenite-bearing calcium- and aluminium-rich inclusion. EET 96029 is also rich in Fe,Ni metal relative to other CM chondrites, and more was present prior to its partial replacement by goethite during Antarctic weathering. In combination, these properties indicate that EET 96029 is one of the least aqueously altered CMs yet described (CM2.7) and so provides new insights into the original composition of its parent body. Following aqueous alteration, and whilst still in the parent body regolith, the meteorite was heated to ∼400–600 °C by impacts or solar radiation. Heating led to the amorphisation and dehydroxylation of serpentine, replacement of tochilinite by magnetite, loss of sulphur from the matrix, and modification to the structure of organic matter that includes organic nanoglobules. Significant differences between samples in oxygen isotope compositions, and water/hydroxyl contents, suggests that the meteorite contains lithologies that have undergone different intensities of heating. EET 96029 may be more representative of the true nature of parent body regoliths than many other CM meteorites, and as such can help interpret results from the forthcoming missions to study and return samples from C-complex asteroids.”