Transformations to granular zircon revealed: Twinning, reidite, and ZrO2 in shocked zircon from Meteor Crater (Arizona, USA)

Geology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Granular zircon in impact environments has long been recognized but remains poorly understood due to lack of experimental data to identify mechanisms involved in its genesis. Meteor Crater in Arizona (United States) contains abundant evidence of shock metamorphism, including shocked quartz, the high pressure polymorphs coesite and stishovite, diaplectic SiO2 glass, and lechatelierite (fused SiO2). Here we report the presence of granular zircon, a new shocked mineral discovery at Meteor Crater, that preserve critical orientation evidence of specific transformations that occurred during its formation at extreme impact conditions. The zircon grains occur as aggregates of sub-µm neoblasts in highly shocked Coconino Formation Sandstone (CFS) comprised of lechatelierite. Electron backscatter diffraction shows that each grain consists of multiple domains, some with boundaries disoriented by 65°<110>, a known {112} shock-twin orientation. Other domains have crystallographic c-axes in alignment with {110} of neighboring domains, consistent with the former presence of the high pressure ZrSiO4 polymorph reidite. Additionally, nearly all zircon preserve ZrO2 + SiO2, providing evidence of partial dissociation. The genesis of CFS granular zircon started with detrital zircon that experienced shock-twinning and reidite formation from 20 to 30 GPa, ultimately yielding a phase that retained crystallographic memory; this phase subsequently recrystallized to systematically oriented zircon neoblasts, and in some areas partially dissociated to ZrO2. The lechatelierite matrix, experimentally constrained to form at >2000 °C, provided an ultra high-temperature environment for zircon dissociation (~1670 °C) and neoblast formation. The capacity of granular zircon to preserve a cumulative P-T record has not been recognized previously, and provides a new method for retrieving histories of impact-related mineral transformations in the crust at conditions far beyond which most rocks melt.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Transformations to granular zircon revealed: Twinning, reidite, and ZrO2 in shocked zircon from Meteor Crater (Arizona, USA)
Series title Geology
DOI 10.1130/G38043.1
Volume 44
Issue 9
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Publisher location Boulder, CO
Contributing office(s) Astrogeology Science Center
Description 4 p.
First page 703
Last page 706
Country United States
State Arizona
Other Geospatial Meteor Crater