Formation and destruction of magnetite in CO3 chondrites and other chondrite groups

Alan E. Rubin, Ye Li

Available online 31 July 2019
In Press, Journal Pre-proof


“Primitive CO3.00-3.1 chondrites contain ˜2-8 vol.% magnetite, minor troilite and accessory carbide and chromite; some CO3.1 chondrites have fayalite-rich veins, chondrule rims and euhedral matrix grains. All CO3.00-3.1 chondrites contain little metallic Fe-Ni (0.4 – 1.2 vol.%). CO3.2-3.7 chondrites contain 1-5 vol.% metallic Fe-Ni, minor troilite, accessory chromite and 0-0.6 vol.% magnetite. Magnetite is formed in primitive CO3 chondrites from metallic Fe by parent-body aqueous alteration, resulting in decreased metallic Fe-Ni and an increase in the proportion of high-Ni metal grains. The paucity or absence of magnetite in CO chondrites of subtype ≥3.2 suggests that magnetite is destroyed during thermal metamorphism; thermochemical calculations from the literature suggest that magnetite is reduced by H2 and reacts with SiO2 to form fayalite and secondary kamacite. Analogous processes of magnetite formation and destruction occur in other chondrite groups: (1) Primitive type-3 OC have opaque assemblages containing magnetite, carbide, Ni-rich metal and Ni-rich sulfide, but OC of subtype >3.4 contain little or no magnetite. (2) Primitive R3 chondrites and clasts (subtype ≲3.5) contain up to 6 vol.% magnetite, but most R chondrites contain no magnetite. The principal exception is magnetite with 9-20 wt.% Cr2O3 in a few R4-6 chondrites. Magnetite grains with high Cr2O3 behave like chromite and are more stable under reducing conditions. (3) CK chondrites average ˜4 vol.% magnetite with substantial Cr2O3 (up to ˜15 wt.%); these magnetite grains also are stable against reduction during metamorphism. (4) The modal abundance of magnetite decreases with metamorphic grade in CV3 chondrites. (5) Chromite occurs instead of magnetite in those rare samples classified CR6, CR7 and CV7.”