Characterization of Carbonaceous Matter in Xenolithic Clasts from the Sharps (H3.4) Meteorite: Constraints on the Origin and Thermal Processing

Yoko Kebukawa, Michael E. Zolensky, Queenie H.S. Chan, Keisuke Nagao, A.L. David Kilcoyne, Robert J. Bodnar, Charles Farley, Zia Rahman, Loan Le, George D. Cody

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 25 September 2016


“Primitive xenolithic clasts, often referred to as “dark clasts”, are well known in many regolith breccias. The Sharps H3.4 ordinary chondrite contains unusually large dark clasts up to ∼1 cm across. Poorly-graphitized carbon (PGC), with Fe, Ni metal and described as “carbon-rich aggregates”, has been reported in these clasts (Brearley, 1990). We report detailed analyses of carbonaceous matter in several identical Sharps clasts using FTIR, Raman, C-XANES, and TEM that provide insight on the extent of thermal processing and possible origin of such clasts. We also prepared acid residues of the clasts using the HCl/HF method and conducted mass spectrometric analysis of the entrained noble gases.

Carbonaceous matter is often used to infer thermal history due to its sensitivity to thermal processes. The FTIR spectra of the acid residue from the Sharps clast suggest that carbonaceous matter in the clast contains less hydrogen and oxygen compared to acid residues from typical type 3.4 ordinary chondrites. The metamorphic temperatures obtained by Raman spectroscopy ranges between ∼380 °C to ∼490 °C. TEM observations indicate that the clasts experienced a peak temperature of 300 °C to 400 °C, based on the carbon d002 layer lattice spacing of C-rich aggregates. These estimates are consistent with an earlier estimate of 330 ± 50 °C, that is also estimated by the d002 layer lattice spacing (Brearley, 1990). It should be noted that the lattice spacing thermometer is based on terrestrial metamorphose rocks, and thus temperature was probably underestimated. Meanwhile, the C-XANES spectra of the C-rich aggregates show high exciton intensities, indicative of graphene structures that developed at around 700 °C to 800 °C following an extensive period of time (millions of years), however, the surrounding matrix areas experienced lower temperatures of less than 300 °C to 500 °C. Noble gas analysis of the acid residue from the Sharps clasts shows that the residue is almost identical with some material reported in carbonaceous chondrites, i.e., heavily enriched in the Q-gas component as well as HL-gas from presolar diamonds and Ne-E(H) from presolar SiC.

These results indicate that the C-rich aggregates in the Sharps clasts formed under relatively high temperature conditions, up to 800 °C, and were subsequently mixed with lower temperature matrix, probably in a different parent body, before they were incorporated into the final Sharps lithology by collision.”