Ni/S/Cl systematics and the origin of impact-melt glasses in Martian meteorite Elephant Moraine 79001

Schrader, C. M., Cohen, B. A., Donovan, J. J. and Vicenzi, E. P.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12612


“Martian meteorite Elephant Moraine A79001 (EET 79001) has received considerable attention for the unusual composition of its shock melt glass, particularly its enrichment in sulfur relative to the host shergottite. It has been hypothesized that Martian regolith was incorporated into the melt or, conversely, that the S-enrichment stems from preferential melting of sulfide minerals in the host rock during shock. We present results from an electron microprobe study of EET 79001 including robust measurements of major and trace elements in the shock melt glass (S, Cl, Ni, Co, V, and Sc) and minerals in the host rock (Ni, Co, and V). We find that both S and major element abundances can be reconciled with previous hypotheses of regolith incorporation and/or excess sulfide melt. However, trace element characteristics of the shock melt glass, particularly Ni and Cl abundances relative to S, cannot be explained either by the incorporation of regolith or sulfide minerals. We therefore propose an alternative hypothesis whereby, prior to shock melting, portions of EET 79001 experienced acid-sulfate leaching of the mesostasis, possibly groundmass feldspar, and olivine, producing Al-sulfates that were later incorporated into the shock melt, which then quenched to glass. Such activity in the Martian near-surface is supported by observations from the Mars Exploration Rovers and laboratory experiments. Our preimpact alteration model, accompanied by the preferential survival of olivine and excess melting of feldspar during impact, explains the measured trace element abundances better than either the regolith incorporation or excess sulfide melting hypothesis does.”