Rare-earth-element minerals in martian breccia meteorites NWA 7034 and 7533: Implications for fluid–rock interaction in the martian crust

Yang Liu, Chi Ma, John R. Beckett, Yang Chen, Yunbin Guan

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 21 July 2016


• Martian meteorite NWA 7034/7533 contains monazite, xenotime, chevkinite-perrierite.
• These REE-minerals are likely formed by hydrothermal alterations of their source rocks.
• Wide-spread hydrothermal event(s) likely occurred in the Martian crust at >1 Ga.”

“Paired martian breccia meteorites, Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034 and 7533, are the first martian rocks found to contain rare-earth-element (REE) phosphates and silicates. The most common occurrence is as clusters of anhedral monazite-(Ce) inclusions in apatite. Occasionally, zoned, irregular merrillite inclusions are also present in apatite. Monazite-bearing apatite is sometimes associated with alkali-feldspar and Fe-oxide. Apatite near merrillite and monazite generally contains more F and OH (F-rich region) than the main chlorapatite host and forms irregular boundaries with the main host. Locally, the composition of F-rich regions can reach pure fluorapatite. The chlorapatite hosts are similar in composition to isolated apatite without monazite inclusions, and to euhedral apatite in lithic clasts. The U–Th-total Pb ages of monazite in three apatite are View the MathML source1.0±0.4Ga (2σ ), View the MathML source1.1±0.5Ga (2σ ), and View the MathML source2.8±0.7Ga (2σ), confirming a martian origin. The texture and composition of monazite inclusions are mostly consistent with their formation by the dissolution of apatite and/or merrillite by fluid at elevated temperatures (>100 °C).

In NWA 7034, we observed a monazite-chevkinite-perrierite-bearing benmoreite or trachyandesite clast. Anhedral monazite and chevkinite-perrierite grains occur in a matrix of sub-micrometer REE-phases and silicates inside the clast. Monazite-(Ce) and -(Nd) and chevkinite-perrierite-(Ce) and -(Nd) display unusual La and Ce depletion relative to Sm and Nd. In addition, one xenotime-(Y)-bearing pyrite-ilmenite-zircon clast with small amounts of feldspar and augite occurs in NWA 7034. One xenotime crystal was observed at the edge of an altered zircon grain, and a cluster of xenotime crystals resides in a mixture of alteration materials. Pyrite, ilmenite, and zircon in this clast are all highly altered, zircon being the most likely source of Y and HREE now present in xenotime. The association of xenotime with zircon, low U and Th contents, and the low Yb content relative to Gd and Dy in xenotime suggest the possible formation of xenotime as a byproduct of fluid–zircon reactions.

On the basis of relatively fresh apatite grains and lithic clasts in the same samples, we propose that the fluid–rock/mineral reactions occurred in the source rocks before their inclusion in NWA 7034 and 7533. Additionally, monazite-bearing apatite and REE-mineral-bearing clasts are possibly derived from different crustal origins. Thus, our results imply the wide-occurrence of hydrothermal fluids in the martian crust at 1 Ga or older, which were probably induced by impacts or large igneous intrusions.”