A review of the chondrite–achondrite transition, and a metamorphic facies series for equilibrated primitive stony meteorites

Andrew G. Tomkins, Tim E. Johnson, Jennifer T. Mitchell

Meteoritics & Planetary Science
First Published: 13 April 2020


“Here, the petrological features of numerous primitive achondrites and highly equilibrated chondrites are evaluated to review and expand upon our knowledge of the chondrite–achondrite transition, and primitive achondrites in general. A thermodynamic model for the initial silicate melting temperature and progressive melting for nearly the entire known range of oxidation states is provided, which can be expressed as Tm = 0.035Fa2−3.51Fa + 1109 (in °C, where Fa is the proportion of fayalite in olivine). This model is then used to frame a discussion of textural and mineralogical evolution of stony meteorites with increasing temperature. We suggest that the metamorphic petrology of these meteorites should be based on diffusive equilibration among the silicate minerals, and as such, the chondrite–achondrite transition should be defined by the initial point of silicate melting, not by metal–troilite melting. Evidence of silicate melting is preserved by a distinctive texture of interconnected interstitial plagioclase ± pyroxene networks among rounded olivine and/or pyroxene (depending on ƒO2), which pseudomorph the former silicate melt network. Indirectly, the presence of exsolution lamellae in augite in slowly cooled achondrites also implies that silicate melting occurred because of the high temperatures required, and because silicate melt enhances diffusion. A metamorphic facies series is defined: the Plagioclase Facies is equivalent to petrologic types 5 and 6, the Sub‐calcic Augite Facies is bounded at lower temperatures by the initiation of silicate melting and at higher temperatures by the appearance of pigeonite, which marks the transition to the Pigeonite Facies.”