New olivine morphologies in shergottites reveal complex thermal histories of martian magmas

S.A. Eckley, R.A. Ketcham, Y. Liu, A. Udry, J. Gross

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Journal Pre-proof, Available online 6 April 2024


“Petrogenetic models of martian magmas reflect the compositional, thermal, and geodynamical evolution of its interior. Most models for shergottite meteorites, which sampled relatively young martian basalts, invoke partial melting in a mantle plume head and filtering of the magma through the crust. Olivine-phyric, poikilitic, and olivine-gabbroic shergottites contain large, Mg-rich olivine crystals that record their parent magma history and are generally regarded to form initially in slow cooling, near-equilibrium environments in the lower crust. Here we report the unexpected common occurrence of Mg-rich olivine crystals with chained, mantled dendritic, and skeletal morphologies that reflect rapid growth, requiring relatively large degrees of undercooling and possibly moderate to fast cooling rates. Novel 3D analysis of crystal textures and core Fe-Mg content demonstrates that chained and mantled dendritic olivines in enriched shergottites are among the earliest-formed crystals, indicating rapid crystal growth during initial magma pooling in the lower crust, a process that has not been documented in Earth basalts. In geochemically depleted shergottites, skeletal olivines appear later in the crystallization sequence, but before the final eruption and solidification. Geochemically intermediate samples do not contain rapid-growth olivine, indicating extended equilibrium growth. The frequent occurrence of chained, mantled dendritic, and skeletal olivines in enriched and depleted shergottites suggests that the conditions needed for rapid growth are common for mafic magmatism on Mars, and that these magmas experience complex thermal histories characterized by discrete episodes of large undercooling at depth.”