From olivine to ringwoodite: a TEM study of a complex process

Lidia Pittarello, Gang Ji, Akira Yamaguchi, Dominique Schryvers, Vinciane Debaille and Philippe Claeys

Meteoritics & Planetary Science
DOI: 10.1111/maps.12441


The study of shock metamorphism of olivine might help to constrain impact events in the history of meteorites. Although shock features in olivine are well known, so far, there are processes that are not yet completely understood. In shock veins, olivine clasts with a complex structure, with a ringwoodite rim and a dense network of lamellae of unidentified nature in the core, have been reported in the literature. A highly shocked (S5-6), L6 meteorite, ringwoodite, which was recently collected in Antarctica by a Belgian–Japanese joint expedition, contains this type of shocked olivine clasts and has been, therefore, selected for detailed investigations of these features by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Petrographic, geochemical, and crystallographic studies showed that the rim of these shocked clasts consists of an aggregate of nanocrystals of ringwoodite, with lower Mg/Fe ratio than the unshocked olivine. The clast’s core consists of an aggregate of iso-oriented grains of olivine and wadsleyite, with higher Mg/Fe ratio than the unshocked olivine. This aggregate is crosscut by veinlets of nanocrystals of olivine, with extremely low Mg/Fe ratio. The formation of the ringwoodite rim is likely due to solid-state, diffusion-controlled, transformation from olivine under high-temperature conditions. The aggregate of iso-oriented olivine and wadsleyite crystals is interpreted to have formed also by a solid-state process, likely by coherent intracrystalline nucleation. Following the compression, shock release is believed to have caused opening of cracks and fractures in olivine and formation of olivine melt, which has lately crystallized under postshock equilibrium pressure conditions as olivine.