In-situ formation of halite in the Sidi El Habib 001 (H5) ordinary chondrite: Implications for hydrothermal alteration in ordinary chondrite parent bodies

Shaofan Che, Kenneth J. Domanik, Thomas J. Zega

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Journal Pre-proof, Available online 11 March 2023


“The microstructures and chemistry of secondary feldspars and phosphates in equilibrated ordinary chondrites (OCs) suggest that fluids were involved in the formation of these phases, challenging the conventional view that secondary alteration of equilibrated OCs occur under water-absent conditions. The newly discovered Sidi El Habib 001 (SEH 001), a halite-bearing H5 OC, provides a unique opportunity to further probe the role of fluids during thermal metamorphism on the OC parent bodies. Here we report a petrographic and mineralogic study of SEH 001, with the aim of understanding the origins of halite grains and their implications for the alteration histories of equilibrated OCs. Our investigation reveals a main halite-bearing lithology and a halite-free lithology, both of which show equilibrated textures. Except for halides, no significant textural or compositional differences were observed between halite-bearing and -free lithologies. Halite occurs at all spatial scales in the main lithology and shows clear textures of replacing albitic plagioclase and Cl-apatite. Chlorapatite grains in SEH 001 are Cl-rich and many of them contain elevated amounts of “other” anions.

Our observations suggest that halite grains in SEH 001 formed in situ on the parent body via precipitation from an aqueous fluid. The replacement of plagioclase and Cl-apatite by halite and the equilibrated textures of halite-bearing and halite-free lithologies point to a hydrothermal alteration history where halite formed during advanced thermal metamorphism before the fluid was completely lost. The two lithologies were likely affected by fluids with different Cl concentrations that resulted from heterogeneous distribution of HCl hydrate. Based on comparison to experimental data, halite in SEH 001 could have survived peak metamorphism because of its relatively high thermal stability. Collisional disruption of its original parent body could also facilitate the preservation of halite via release of heat. In the rubble pile model of the OC parent body formation, subsequent accretion of hot fragments into a rubble pile body could have resulted in the blurred boundaries between halite-free and -bearing lithologies now observed in our sample. The occurrence of halite in SEH 001 is clear evidence that aqueous fluids were involved in the alteration of equilibrated OCs.

Combined with previous reports of hydrous minerals (such as phyllosilicates) and other related aqueous products in unequilibrated OCs, our study further suggests that S-type asteroids, the parent bodies of OCs, could be more hydrated than previously thought and might serve as a potential source of water for terrestrial planets in the inner solar system. Nevertheless, whether the proposed hydrothermal history of SEH 001 can be extrapolated to other equilibrated OCs needs to be tested. The in-situ formation origin of halite in SEH 001 contrasts with the exogeneous origin of halite in Monahans (1998) and Zag, suggesting that halites with different origins occurred on the OC parent bodies. The rarity of halite in OCs could be attributed to the heterogeneous distribution of HCl hydrate in the OC parent bodies, although the fragile nature of halite in terrestrial and laboratory environments also increases the likelihood of halite being destroyed in OC samples.”