Why is it so difficult to classify Renazzo-type (CR) Carbonaceous Chondrites? – Implications from TEM observations of matrices for the sequences of aqueous alteration

Neyda M. Abreu

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 1 September 2016


“A number of different classification schemes have been proposed for the CR chondrites; this study aims at reconciling these different classification schemes. Mineralogy-based classification has proved particularly challenging for weakly to moderately altered CRs because incipient mineral replacement and elemental mobilization arising from aqueous alteration only affected the most susceptible primary phases, which are generally located in the matrix. Secondary matrix phases are extremely fine-grained (generally sub-micron) and heterogeneously mixed with primary nebular materials. Compositional and isotopic classification parameters are fraught with confounding factors, such as terrestrial weathering, impact processes, and variable abundance of clasts from different regions of the CR parent body or from altogether different planetary bodies. Here, detailed TEM observations from eighteen FIB sections retrieved from the matrices of nine Antarctic CR chondrites (EET 96259, GRA 95229, GRO 95577, GRO 03116, LAP 02342, LAP 04516, LAP 04720, MIL 07525, and MIL 090001) are presented, representing a range of petrologic types. Amorphous Fe-Mg silicates are found to be the dominant phase in all but the most altered CR chondrite matrices, which still retain significant amounts of these amorphous materials. Amorphous Fe-Mg silicates are mixed with phyllosilicates at the nanometer scale. The ratio of amorphous Fe-Mg silicates to phyllosilicates decreases as: (1) the size of phyllosilicates, (2) abundance of magnetite, and (3) replacement of Fe-Ni sulfides increase. Carbonates are only abundant in the most altered CR chondrite, GRO 95577. Nanophase Fe-Ni metal and tochilinite are present small abundances in most CR matrices. Based on the presence, abundance and size of phyllosilicates with respect to amorphous Fe-Mg silicates, the sub-micron features of CR chondrites have been linked to existing classification sequences, and possible reasons for inconsistencies among classification schemes are discussed.”