Evidence for early impact on a hot differentiated planetesimal from Al-rich micro-inclusions in ungrouped achondrite Northwest Africa 7325

Jing Yang, Chi Zhang, Masaaki Miyahara, Xu Tang, Lixin Gu, Yangting Lin

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 13 March 2019


“The ungrouped achondrite NWA 7325 is a cumulate olivine gabbro (Irving et al., 2013). It contains abundant and unique micro-inclusions of Ca-pyroxene (Bischoff et al., 2013) and spinel-like Al-Mg oxide (Goodrich et al., 2017) in plagioclase, indicating a remelting event induced either by impact (Goodrich et al., 2017) or by magma intrusion (Bischoff et al., 2013, Weber et al., 2016). In this work, a combined FIB-TEM study has been conducted on these micro-inclusions to address their petrogenesis and the related history of NWA 7325. TEM study revealed that micro-inclusions in the interiors of large plagioclase grains are Al-enriched spinel (Mg/Al atomic ratio: 0.03-0.4) with minor needle-like α-corundum, whereas those in the margins are predominantly Al-rich diopside (En44.5-46.6Fs1.2-1.5Wo31.2-36.7CaTs17.6-22.4) with minor forsterite (Fo94.6-94.7). The Mg/Al atomic ratios of the spinel micro-inclusions are negatively correlated with the distance away from the interface of plagioclase-pyroxene. Large plagioclase grains also exhibit a decrease in the Mg/Al atomic ratio from the rims to the cores. Based on the reaction texture at the interfaces of plagioclase-pyroxene, we infer that the Mg concentration gradient in large plagioclase grains could have resulted from Mg diffusion from the remelted rims of pyroxene into plagioclase. In addition, TEM observations showed that large plagioclase grains are not single crystals, but assemblages of submicron to micron-sized crystals. The preservation of Mg concentration gradients, submicron-sized polycrystalline plagioclases, and the consistent presence of micro-inclusions within large plagioclase grains likely indicate complete remelting of plagioclase and partial remelting of pyroxene (only rims of pyroxene with plagioclase) followed by fast cooling. We propose that micro-inclusions of diopside, forsterite, Al-rich spinel and corundum crystallized from the melt, which developed a Mg concentration gradient during the remelting of NWA 7325.

The heating temperatures of pyroxene and plagioclase in the remelting event were estimated to be 1274-1327 °C and Σ1530 °C, respectively. A subsequent cooling rate of Σ500-650 °C/h at 1300 °C was found by fitting the measured Mg concentration gradient in large plagioclase grains with a Fick’s second law model that incorporated the diffusion coefficients of Mg in plagioclase-melt. These results are better explained by a shock event; a magmatic intrusion process is ruled out. To achieve the coexistence of shock-induced high temperature (Σ1274 °C) in-situ melting and only undulatory extinction of forsterite grains, an ambient temperature of 1000-1100 °C in the surrounding, parent rock of NWA 7325 was required prior to impact. This work suggests a very early shock event when NWA 7325 was hot and buried in the crust of its parental planetesimal, which is a scenario consistent with its magma crystallization age (∼4.3 Ma after CAIs, e.g., Koefoed et al., 2016). This work also implies that impacts are a potential heat source for melting hot planetesimals in the early Solar System.”