Alkali magmatism on a carbonaceous chondrite planetesimal

Jérôme Aléon, Alice Aléon-Toppani, Bernard Platevoet, Jacques-Marie Bardintzeff, Kevin D. McKeegan, and François Brisset

PNAS, first published March 30, 2020


“Recent isotopic and paleomagnetic data point to a possible connection between carbonaceous chondrites and differentiated planetary materials, suggesting the existence, perhaps ephemeral, of transitional objects with a layered structure whereby a metal-rich core is enclosed by a silicate mantle, which is itself overlain by a crust containing an outermost layer of primitive solar nebula materials. This idea has not received broad support, mostly because of a lack of samples in the meteoritic record that document incipient melting at the onset of planetary differentiation. Here, we report the discovery and the petrologic–isotopic characterization of UH154-11, a ferroan trachybasalt fragment enclosed in a Renazzo-type carbonaceous chondrite (CR). Its chemical and oxygen isotopic compositions are consistent with very-low-degree partial melting of a Vigarano-type carbonaceous chondrite (CV) from the oxidized subgroup at a depth where fluid-assisted metamorphism enhanced the Na content. Its microdoleritic texture indicates crystallization at an increasing cooling rate, such as would occur during magma ascent through a chondritic crust. This represents direct evidence of magmatic activity in a carbonaceous asteroid on the verge of differentiating and demonstrates that some primitive outer Solar System objects related to icy asteroids and comets underwent a phase of magmatic activity early in the Solar System. With its peculiar petrology, UH154-11 can be considered the long-sought first melt produced during partial differentiation of a carbonaceous chondritic planetary body, bridging a previously persistent gap in differentiation processes from icy cometary bodies to fully melted iron meteorites with isotopic affinities to carbonaceous chondrites.”