Shock-induced pervasive remelting of Fe sulfides in the basaltic shergottite Northwest Africa 14672: A benchmark for shock stages S6/S7 on Mars

Jean-Pierre Lorand, Sylvain Pont, Roger H. Hewins, Brigitte Zanda

MAPS, Version of Record online: 04 July 2024


“Northwest Africa (NWA) 14672, the most highly shocked Martian meteorite so far, has experienced >50% melting, compatible with peak pressure >~65 Gpa, at a transition stage 6/7. Despite these extreme shock conditions, the meteorite still preserves a population of “large” Fe sulfide blebs from the pre-shock igneous assemblage. These primary blebs preserve characteristics of basaltic shergottites in term of modal abundance, preferential occurrence in interstitial pores along with late-crystallized phases (ilmenite, merrillite), and Ni-free pyrrhotite compositions. Primary sulfides underwent widespread shock-induced remelting, as indicated by perfect spherical morphologies when embedded in fine-grained silicate melt zones and a wealth of mineral/glass/vesicle inclusions. Extensive melting of Fe-sulfides is consistent with the decompression path experienced by NWA 14672 after the peak shock pressure at ~70 GPa. Primary sulfides acted as preferential sites for nucleation of vesicles of all sizes which helped sulfur degassing during decompression, leading to partial resorption of Fe-sulfide blebs and reequilibration of pyrrhotite metal/sulfur ratios (0.96–0.98) toward the low oxygen fugacity conditions indicated by Fe-Ti oxides hosted in fine-grained materials. The extreme shock intensity also provided suitable conditions for widespread in situ redistribution of igneous sulfur as micrometric globules concentrated in glassy portions of fine-grained lithologies. These globules exsolved early on quenching, allowing dendritic skeletal Fe-Ti oxide overgrowths to nucleate on sulfides.”