Formation of diamond and lonsdaleite in ureilites by impact shock processing of graphite

S. S. Rout, J. Storz, A. Davydok, A. Bischoff, T. John, C. Krywka, M. Ritter

Version of Record online: 29 September 2023


“The origin of diamond in ureilites has been frequently debated. We investigated carbon phase assemblages (CPAs) in five ureilitic samples of the brecciated asteroid 2008 TC3, found within the Almahata Sitta (AHS) strewn field, by transmission electron microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, synchrotron X-ray diffraction, and cathodoluminescence. Samples MS-MU 006, MS-187, and MS-170, are of low to moderate shock degree (U-S2 and U-S3), and samples MS-MU 027 (U-S4) and MS-MU 045 (U-S5) have a higher shock degree. In MS-MU 006 and MS-187, we did not find any diamond grains. MS-170 contains disordered and distorted graphite with diamond grains up to 12 μm in size and containing inclusions of Fe,Ni-metal, FeS, Fe-phosphide, and Cr,Fe-oxide. These diamond grains formed under relatively low (5–15 GPa) shock pressures through a catalytic process in the presence of a Fe,Ni,Cr,S,P-rich melt. The highly shocked and fine-grained ureilites MS-MU 027 and MS-MU 045 have three different types of CPAs, namely a nanopolycrystalline assemblage of diamond and defect-rich diamond/lonsdaleite, disordered and distorted graphite, and polycrystalline diamond with abundant Fe-rich mineral inclusions. The CPAs that have only diamond and planar defect-rich diamond (e.g., MS-MU 027) most likely formed through martensitic transformation of graphite to diamond and lonsdaleite at >15 GPa and >2000 K. The assemblage of diamond, defect-rich diamond, and disordered and distorted graphite (e.g., MS-MU 045) formed by martensitic transformation of graphite to diamond and lonsdaleite, followed by back-transformation to disordered graphite. We did not find any conclusive evidence to support the formation of diamond grains under high static pressure.”