The Los Angeles martian diabase: Phosphate U-Th-Pb geochronology and mantle source constraints

Christopher R.M. McFarlane, John G. Spray

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Available online 18 April 2022


“In situ laser ablation inductively coupled mass spectrometry (LA ICP-MS) is used to determine the U-Th-Pb age of the phosphates ferromerrillite and apatite in the Los Angeles shergottitic meteorite. The initial 207Pb/206Pb was refined by analyzing K-rich diaplectic glass. LA ICP-MS mapping was used to document zones of elevated U and Th content and to establish textural controls on isotope ages. By critically assessing dispersion in the U-Th-Pb dataset due to Pb-diffusion in phosphates during high-temperature shock metamorphism, and as a result of subsequent terrestrial contamination, we obtain a best-estimate U-Pb age of 169 ± 5 Ma anchored at an initial 207Pb/206Pb of 0.98390 ± 0.00018. This is statistically indistinguishable from a joint-isochron age of 179 ± 6 with initial 208Pb/206Pb of 2.5151 ± 0.0028. These results complement previously determined Rb-Sr and Sm-Nd isotope ages and provide independent evidence for LA having crystallized as a medium-grained basic rock from a thick lava flow or high-level intrusion in the late Amazonian at ∼170 Ma. In the context of martian mantle evolution, the initial common-Pb values suggest that Los Angeles originated from a source (µ2 ∼3.2) that is similar to enriched members of the shergottite meteorite clan. The U-Th-Pb systematics of both ferromerrillite and apatite were locally affected by diffusive Pb-loss in thin U-enriched marginal domains and more profoundly in shock-induced melt pockets where temperatures briefly exceeded 2000°C. The results reveal: (1) how precise U-Pb ages can be attained from phosphates; (2) the importance of microtextural contextualization of isotope data; (3) that the timescales of cooling from shock conditions were sufficient to promote local diffusive re-equilibration of Pb over 10s of microns; and (4) that LA ICP-MS mapping can be used to locate domains with the highest U/Pb and Th/Pb, which increases precision on lower intercept ages and isochron regression lines.”