Mineralogical study of brown olivine in Northwest Africa 1950 shergottite and implications for the formation mechanism of iron nanoparticles

Atsushi Takenouchi, Takashi Mikouchi and Toshihiro Kogure

Meteorit Planet Sci. doi:10.1111/maps.12949
First published: 29 August 2017


“Martian meteorites, in particular shergottites, contain darkened olivine (so-called “brown olivine”) whose color is induced by iron nanoparticles formed in olivine during a shock event. The formation process and conditions of brown olivine have been discussed in the Northwest Africa 2737 (NWA 2737) chassignite. However, formation conditions of brown olivine in NWA 2737 cannot be applied to shergottites because NWA 2737 has a different shock history from that of shergottites. Therefore, this study observed brown olivine in the NWA 1950 shergottite and discusses the general formation process and conditions of brown olivine in shergottites. Our observation of NWA 1950 revealed that olivine is heterogeneously darkened between and within grains different from brown olivine in NWA 2737. XANES analysis showed that brown olivine contains small amounts of Fe3+ and TEM/STEM observation revealed that there is no SiO-rich phase around iron metal nanoparticles. These observations indicate that iron nanoparticles were formed by a disproportionation reaction of olivine (3Fe2+olivine → Fe0metal + 2Fe3+olivine + Volivine, where Volivine means a vacancy in olivine). Some parts of brown olivine show lamellar textures in SEM observation and Raman peaks in addition to those expected for olivine, implying that brown olivine experienced a phase transition (to e.g., ringwoodite). In order to induce heterogeneous darkening, heterogeneous high temperature of about 1500–1700 K and shock duration of at least ~90 ms are required. This heterogeneous high temperature resulted in high postshock temperature (>900 K) inducing back-transformation of most high-pressure phases. Therefore, in spite of lack of high-pressure phases, NWA 1950 (= Martian meteorites with brown olivine) experienced higher pressure and temperature compared to other highly shocked meteorite groups.”