Microstructural evidence for a disequilibrium condensation origin for hibonite-spinel inclusions in the ALHA77307 CO3.0 chondrite

Han, J., Brearley, A. J. and Keller, L. P.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12563


“Two hibonite-spinel inclusions (CAIs 03 and 08) in the ALHA77307 CO3.0 chondrite have been characterized in detail using the focused ion beam sample preparation technique combined with transmission electron microscopy. These hibonite-spinel inclusions are irregularly shaped and porous objects and consist of randomly oriented hibonite laths enclosed by aggregates of spinel with fine-grained perovskite inclusions finally surrounded by a partial rim of diopside. Melilite is an extremely rare phase in this type of CAI and occurs only in one inclusion (CAI 03) as interstitial grains between hibonite laths and on the exterior of the inclusion. The overall petrologic and mineralogical observations suggest that the hibonite-spinel inclusions represent high-temperature condensates from a cooling nebular gas. The textural relationships indicate that hibonite is the first phase to condense, followed by perovskite, spinel, and diopside. Texturally, melilite condensation appears to have occurred after spinel, suggesting that the condensation conditions were far from equilibrium. The crystallographic orientation relationships between hibonite and spinel provide evidence of epitaxial nucleation and growth of spinel on hibonite surfaces, which may have lowered the activation energy for spinel nucleation compared with that of melilite and consequently inhibited melilite condensation. Hibonite contains abundant stacking defects along the (001) plane consisting of different ratios of the spinel and Ca-containing blocks within the ideal hexagonal hibonite structure. This modification of the stacking sequence is likely the result of accommodation of excess Al in the gas into hibonite due to incomplete condensation of corundum from a cooling gas under disequilibrium conditions. We therefore conclude that these two hibonite-spinel inclusions in ALHA77307 formed by high-temperature condensation under disequilibrium conditions.”