Three-dimensional imaging of high-velocity-impact induced crack growth in carbonaceous meteorites

Tatsuhiro Michikami, Akira Tsuchiyama, Axel Hagermann, Akio Takeda, Katsuki Shishido, Yushi Otsuka, Osamu Sasaki, Michihiko Nakamura, Satoshi Okumura, Harumasa Kano, Sunao Hasegawa,

Available online 25 November 2022


“The material strength of meteorites provides useful information on the make-up and history of asteroids. However, the unique determination of the material strength of a meteorite is difficult because of the wide range of strengths many meteorites exhibit. Even within a single sample, complicated textures and mineral granular compositions make measurements difficult. Michikami et al. (2019) investigated the impact-induced crack growth in ordinary (L5) chondrites and indicated that crack growth is largely affected by the strength of individual mineral grains (and/or chondrules). In this study, we examine the strengths of mineral grains in carbonaceous meteorites qualitatively. To this end, we use X-ray microtomography to investigate how chondrules are affected by impact-induced crack growth in carbonaceous meteorites. Spherical alumina projectiles with a diameter of 1.0 mm were fired into the surfaces of seven Allende (CV) meteorite target samples with sizes of ~1 to 2 cm at a nominal impact velocity of 2.0 km/s. In addition, spherical glass projectiles with a diameter 0.8 mm were fired into the target surfaces of two Murchison (CM) and two Aguas Zarcas (CM) meteorite target samples with sizes of ~2 cm at a nominal impact velocity of 4.0 km/s. The results show that most cracks in CV chondrites tend to grow along the boundary surfaces of the chondrules, while most chondrule-related cracks in CM samples grow regardless of the boundary surfaces of the chondrules. This suggests that crack growth is largely affected by the chondrules’ strength as indicated by Michikami et al. (2019). The weaker the strength of chondrules, the more likely crack growth tends to occur regardless of chondrule boundaries. We found that the mesostasis of chondrules in CM meteorite Murchison (and likely Aguas Zarcas) has experienced aqueous alteration and the chondrules have become structurally weak as a whole. This indicates that impact-induced crack propagation in CM chondrites differs from thermal-fatigue induced crack propagation inferred from previous studies. As the sample material to be returned from asteroid Bennu is considered to be related to CM chondrites, we propose that observation of the cracks in chondrules in Bennu samples might tell us whether those cracks are impact- or thermal-fatigue-induced.”