Trace element geochemistry of K-rich impact spherules from howardites

Barrat, Jean-Alix; Yamaguchi, Akira; Greenwood, Richard C.; Bollinger, Claire; Bohn, Marcel and Franchi, Ian A. (2009). Trace element geochemistry of K-rich impact spherules from howardites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 73(19) pp. 5944–5958.



The howardite-eucrite-diogenite (HED) achondrites are a group of meteorites that probably originate from the asteroid Vesta. Howardites are complex polymict breccias that sometimes contain, in addition to various rock debris, impact melt glasses which show an impressive range of compositions. In this paper we report on the geochemistry and O isotopes of a series of 6 Saharan polymict breccias (4 howardites and 2 polymict eucrites), and on the trace element abundances of high-K impact spherules found in two of them, Northwest Africa (NWA) 1664 and 1769, which are likely paired.

The high-K impact spherules found in the howardites NWA 1664 and NWA 1769 display remarkable trace element patterns. Compared to eucrites or howardites, they all show prominent enrichments in Cs, Rb, K, Li and Ba, strong depletion in Na, while the REE and other refractory elements are unfractionated. These features could not have been generated during impact melting of their host howardites, nor other normal HED target materials. The involvement of Na-poor rocks, and possibly rocks of granitic composition, appears likely. Although these lithologies cannot be well constrained at present, our results demonstrate that the surface of Vesta is certainly more diverse than previously thought. Indeed, despite the large number of available HED meteorites (about 1000 different meteorites), the latter are probably not sufficient to describe the whole surface of their parent body.

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