A revised shock history for the youngest unbrecciated lunar basalt—Northwest Africa 032 and paired meteorites

Tatiana Mijajlovic, Xi Xue, Erin Walton

Meteoritics & Planetary Science
Version of Record online:21 September 2020


“Northwest Africa (NWA) 032 is an unbrecciated porphyritic basalt found in the Moroccan desert in 1999. Constituent igneous minerals—olivine, pyroxene, and plagioclase—exhibit shock deformation and transformation effects. NWA 032 is among the youngest radiometrically dated sample from the Moon, with concordant Sm‐Nd and Rb‐Sr ages of 2.947 ± 0.016 Ga and 2.931 ± 0.092, respectively, representing the timing of igneous crystallization. We present the first comprehensive study of shock metamorphism in NWA 032, with a focus on the structural state of fine‐grained plagioclase feldspar, shock deformation in olivine and pyroxene, and the microtexture and mineralogy of shock melts. Micro‐Raman spectroscopy, optical properties, and electron imaging confirm that plagioclase in this meteorite has been shock amorphized, which, for calcic plagioclase (An80‐90), requires shock pressures on the order of ~25–27 GPa. Shock pressures in this range are accompanied by a postshock temperature increase <200 °C. Shock deformation in olivine and pyroxene phenocrysts comprises undulose extinction to weak mosaicism, irregular fractures, polysynthetic mechanical twinning in pyroxene, and development of planar fractures in olivine. The shock effects in mafic minerals constrain the upper limit of shock in NWA 032 to have been <30 GPa. Shock melt in NWA 032 has quenched to glass of basaltic composition, representing localized in situ melting of igneous minerals by shearing along lithological boundaries to form shock veins and shock impedance contrasts to form isolated pockets of shock melt. These melts quench‐crystallized olivine and pyroxene during the pressure release (<14 GPa). Using recent experimental data on shock amorphization of feldspars, coupled with constraints on the formation of metastable minerals associated with shock melt, we have revised the shock pressure experienced by paired meteorites NWA 10597, NWA 4734, and LaPaz Icefield 02205/02224/0226/02436/03632/04841. These largely unbrecciated, basaltic meteorites experienced an equilibration shock pressure on the order of ~22–25 GPa, constrained by partial amorphization of precursor igneous bytownite. Our results are consistent with crater pairing and ejection in a single impact cratering event.”