Two-stage formation of pallasites and the evolution of their parent bodies revealed by deformation experiments

Nicolas P. Walte, Giulio F.D. Solferino, Gregor J. Golabek, Danielle Silva Souza, Audrey Bouvier

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume 546, 15 September 2020, 116419



• Pallasite textures were simulated with high strain-rate deformation experiments.
• Angular pallasites contain two distinct generations of former metal melt.
• Texturally equilibrated metal pockets situated in olivine aggregates (5-15 vol%).
• Metal melt intruded during a high strain-rate deformation event (20-30 vol%).
• Angular pallasites are formed by core-mantle differentiation followed by an impact.”

“Pallasites, stony-iron meteorites predominantly composed of olivine crystals and Fe-Ni metal, are samples of the interior of early solar system bodies and can thus provide valuable insights into the formation of terrestrial planets. However, pallasite origin is controversial, either sampling the core-mantle boundary or the shallower mantle of planetesimals that suffered an impact. We present high strain-rate deformation experiments with the model system olivine + FeS melt ± gold melt to investigate pallasite formation and the evolution of their parent bodies and compare the resulting microstructures to two samples of Seymchan pallasite. Our experiments reproduced the major textural features of pallasites including the different olivine shapes, olivine aggregates, and the distribution of the metal and sulfide phases. These results indicate that pallasites preserve evidence for a two-stage formation process including inefficient core-mantle differentiation and an impact causing disruption, metal melt injection, and fast cooling within months to years. Olivine aggregates, important constituents of angular pallasites, are reinterpreted as samples of a partially differentiated mantle containing primordial metallic melt not stemming from the impactor. The long-term retention of more than 10 vol% of metal melt in a silicate mantle sampled by olivine aggregates indicates high effective percolation thresholds and inefficient metal-silicate differentiation in planetesimals not experiencing a magma ocean stage.”