Microchondrules in two unequilibrated ordinary chondrites: Evidence for formation by splattering from chondrules during stochastic collisions in the solar nebula

E. Dobrică and A. J. Brearley

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12633


“The diversity of silicate, glassy spherules analogous to chondrules, called microchondrules, and the implications for their presence in unequilibrated ordinary chondrites (UOCs) were investigated using different electron microscope techniques. Our observations show that the abundance of microchondrules in UOCs is much larger than the values proposed by previous studies. We identified two different types of microchondrules, porous and nonporous, embedded within fine-grained matrices and type I chondrule rims. The porous microchondrules are characterized by distinctive textures and chemical compositions that have not been recognized previously. Additionally, we show detailed textures and chemical compositions of protuberances of silicate materials, connected to the chondrules and ending with microchondrules. We suggest that microchondrules and protuberances formed from materials splattered from the chondrules during stochastic collisions when they were still either completely or partially molten. The occurrence and distinct morphologies of microchondrules and protuberances suggest that rather than just a passive flash melting of chondrules, an additional event perturbed the molten chondrules before they underwent cooling. The bulk chemical compositions suggest that (1) nonporous microchondrules and protuberances were formed by splattering of materials that are compositionally similar to the bulk silicate composition of type I chondrules, and (2) the porous microchondrules could represent the splattered melt products of a less evolved, fine-grained dust composition. The preservation of protuberances and microchondrules in the rims suggests that the cooling and accretion rates were exceptionally fast and that they represent the last objects that were formed before the accretion of the parent bodies of OCs.”