Lewis Cliff 87223, an anomalous enstatite chondrite and the diversity of enstatite chondrites

Kaitlyn R. Goss, Mabel L. Gray, Michael K. Weisberg, Denton S. Ebel

Version of Record online: 09 March 2023


“We studied a thin section of Lewis Cliff (LEW) 87223, an unusual EL3-related, enstatite chondrite (EC) that has primary and secondary features not observed in other ECs. We studied its metal-rich nodules, possible shock features, and chondrules, eight of which are Al-rich chondrules (ARCs). LEW 87223 has petrologic and compositional features similar to EL3s. Enstatite is the dominant mineral; chondrule boundaries are well defined; Si content of metal (0.5–0.6 wt%) is consistent with typical EL3; it has Cr-bearing troilite, oldhamite, and alabandite; and its O-isotopic composition is similar to other ECs. However, metal abundance in LEW 87223 (~13 vol%) is slightly higher than in other EL3s and its metal nodules are texturally and mineralogically different from other ECs. Both high and low Ni metals are present, and its alabandite has higher Fe (27.8 wt% Fe) than in other EL3s. Silicates appear darkened in plane polarized light, largely due to reduction of Fe from silicate. A remarkable feature of LEW 87223 is the high abundance of ARCs, which contain Ca-rich plagioclase and varying amounts of Na-rich plagioclase along chondrule edges and as veins. This suggests Na metasomatism and the possibility of hydrothermal fluids, potentially related to an impact event. LEW 87223 expands the range of known EC material. It shows that ECs are more diverse and record a wider range of parent body processes than previously known. LEW 87223 is an anomalous EL3, potentially the first member of a new EC group should similar samples be discovered.”