Petrology of eucrites, howardites and mesosiderites

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta



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The eucrite and howardite calcium-rich achondrites and many mesosiderites are considered as a coherent meteorite assemblage, their silicates consisting essentially of calciumpoor monoclinic and orthorhombic pyroxenes and calcium-rich plagioclase feldspar. The achondrites can be grouped according to their brecciated structure as follows: eucrites-unbrecciated and monomict brecciated achondrites; howardites-polymict brecciated achondrites. Many mesosiderites contain brecciated structures; they are distinguished from the achondrites by their large metallic fraction. The structure and composition of rock fragments in the breccias indicate a complicated sequence of events including magmatic differentiation, brecciation, recrystallization and refragmentation, and ejection from the parent body. Detailed mineralogical and chemical data suggest that the magmatic differentiation proceeded primarily by the separation of pyroxene from an ultrabasic parent material that had a much lower alkali content than ordinary chondrites. Magmatic crystallization took place in environments ranging from extrusive to deep-seated intrusive. Polymict breccias contain fragments with a wide variety of magmatic and recrystallization textures, which suggests that the breccias were formed either in very large or repeated fragmentation events. Monomict breccias contain fragments with a small range of similar magmatic textures, which suggests that these breccias were formed by small or single events. Petrographic evidence suggests that many of the breccias are impact breccias. Either in their original magmatic crystallization sites or in the sites of breccia accumulation, most of these meteorites apparently had a near-surface location prior to ejection from the parent body. Evidence obtained from eucrites, howardites and mesosiderites forms an important part of our understanding of the early evolution of the surface regions of their parent body. Chemical and oxidation conditions were different from those presently found in the Earth's crust and upper mantle, but the necessary conditions may have been present in the early history of the Earth. A lunar origin for eucrites, howardites and mesosiderites is proposed, but an asteroidal origin can not be presently excluded. ?? 1967.

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Petrology of eucrites, howardites and mesosiderites
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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta