Thuathe, a new H4/5 chondrite from Lesotho: History of the fall, petrography, and geochemistry

Reimold, W. U.; Buchanan, P. C.; Ambrose, D.; Koeberl, C.; Franchi, I.; Lalkhan, C.; Schultz, L.; Franke, L. and Heusser, G. (2004). Thuathe, a new H4/5 chondrite from Lesotho: History of the fall, petrography, and geochemistry. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 39(8) pp. 1321–1341.



On July 21, 2002, a meteorite fall occurred over the Thuathe plateau of western Lesotho. The well-defined strewn field covers an area of 1.9 × 7.4 km. Many of the recovered specimens display a brecciated texture with leucocratic, angular to subrounded clasts in a somewhat darker groundmass. Mineralogical and chemical data, as well as oxygen isotopic analysis, indicate that Thuathe is an H4/ 5, S2/3 meteorite, with local H3 or H6 character. A number of anomalous features include somewhat high Co contents of kamacite and taenite relative to normal H-group chondrites. Oxygen isotopic data plot at the edge of the normal H chondrite data field. Variable contents of metallic mineral phases and troilite result in a heterogeneous bulk composition (e.g., with regard to Si, Fe, and Mg), resulting in a spread of major element ratios that is not consistent with previously accepted H-group composition. Trace element abundances are generally consistent with H chondritic composition, and Kr and Xe isotopic data agree with an H4 classification for this meteorite. Noble gas analysis gave U, Th-4He gas retention and K-Ar ages typical for H chondrites; no major thermal event affected this material since ∼3.7 Ga. The exposure age for Thuathe is 5 Ma, somewhat lower than for other H chondrites. Cosmogenic nuclide analysis indicates a pre-atmospheric radius of this meteorite between 35 and 40 cm. In the absence of evidence for solar gases, we classify Thuathe as a fragmental breccia. Numerous narrow, black veins cut across samples of Thuathe and are the result of a brittle deformation event that also caused local melting, especially in portions rich in sulfide. The formation of these veinlets is not the result of locally enhanced shock pressures (i.e., of shock melting) but rather of shearing under brittle conditions with local, friction-related temperature excursions causing melting mostly of Fe-sulfide and FeNi-metal but also, locally, of silicate minerals. Frictional temperature excursions must have attained values in excess of 1500°C to permit complete melting of forsteritic olivine.

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