Shapes of chondrules determined from the petrofabric of the CR2 chondrite NWA 801

Charles, C. R. J., Robin, P.-Y. F., Davis, D. W. and McCausland, P. J. A.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.13038


“The approximately spherical shapes of chondrules has long been attributed to surface tension acting on ~1 mm melt droplets that formed and cooled in the microgravity field of the solar nebula. However, chondrule shapes commonly depart significantly from spherical. In this study, 109 chondrules in a sample of CR2 chondrite NWA 801 were imaged by X-ray computed tomography and best-fitted to ellipsoids. The analysis confirms that many chondrules are indeed not spherical, and also that the chondrules’ collective shape fabric records a definite 13% compaction in the host meteorite. Dehydration of phyllosilicates within chondrules may account for that strain. However, retro-deforming all chondrules shows that a large majority were already far from spherical prior to accretion. Possible models for these initial shapes include prior deformation of individual chondrules in earlier hosts, and, as suggested by previous authors, rotation of chondrules as they were solidifying, and/or “streaming” of molten chondrules by their differential velocities with their gaseous hosts after melting. More in situ 3-D work such as this study on a variety of unequilibrated chondrites, combined with detailed structural petrography, should help further constrain these models and refine our understanding of chondrite formation.”