Evidence for anorthositic crust formed on an inner solar system planetesimalOPEN ACCESS 

P. Frossard, M. Boyet, A. Bouvier, T. Hammouda, J. Monteux

Geochemical Perspectives Letters v11
doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1921
Published 7 October 2019


“During the first million years of solar system history, planetesimals experienced extensive melting powered by the radioactive decay of 26Al (Lee et al., 1977). To date, the only known anorthositic crust on a solar system body is that of the Moon, formed by plagioclase flotation on top of the magma ocean (Wood et al., 1970). Here we show evidence from the ungrouped achondrite meteorite Northwest Africa (NWA) 8486 that an anorthositic crust formed on a planetesimal very early in solar system history (<1.7 Ma). NWA 8486 displays the highest anomalies in Eu and Sr found in achondrites so far and, for the first time, this characteristic is also identified in clinopyroxene. Elemental modelling, together with calculated timescales for crystal settling, show that only the melting of an anorthosite can produce NWA 8486 within the first 5 million years of solar system history. Our results indicate that such a differentiation scenario was achievable over short timescales within the inner solar system, and must have contributed to the making and elemental budget of the terrestrial planets. “