Helium loss from Martian meteorites mainly induced by shock metamorphism: evidence from new data and a literature compilation

Schwenzer, S. P.; Fritz, J.; Stöffler, D.; Trieloff, M.; Amini, M.; Greshake, A.; Herrmann, S.; Herwig, K.; Jochum, K. P.; Mohapatra, R. K.; Stoll, B. and Ott, U. (2008). Helium loss from Martian meteorites mainly induced by shock metamorphism: evidence from new data and a literature compilation. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 43(11) pp. 1841–1859.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1945-5100.2008.tb00647.x


Noble gas data from Martian meteorites have provided key constraints about their origin and evolution, and their parent body. These meteorites have witnessed varying shock metamorphic overprinting (at least 5 to 14 GPa for the nakhlites and up to 45–55 GPa (e.g., the lherzolitic shergottite Allan Hills [ALH] A77005), solar heating, cosmic-ray exposure, and weathering both on Mars and Earth. Influences on the helium budgets of Martian meteorites were evaluated by using a new data set and literature data. Concentrations of 3He, 4He, U, and Th are measured and shock pressures for same sample aliquots of 13 Martian meteorites were determined to asses a possible relationship between shock pressure and helium concentration. Partitioning of 4He into cosmogenic and radiogenic components was performed using the lowest 4He/3He ratio we measured on mineral separates (4He/3He = 4.1, pyroxene of ALHA77005). Our study revealed significant losses of radiogenic 4He. Systematics of cosmogenic 3He and neon led to the conclusion that solar radiation heating during transfer from Mars to Earth and terrestrial weathering can be ruled out as major causes of the observed losses of radiogenic helium in bulk meteorites. For bulk rock we observed a correlation of shock pressure and radiogenic 4He loss, ranging between ~20% for Chassigny and other moderately shocked Martian meteorites up to total loss for meteorites shocked above 40 GPa. A steep increase of loss occurs around 30 GPa, the pressure at which plagioclase transforms to maskelynite. This correlation suggests significant 4He loss induced by shock metamorphism. Noble gas loss in rocks is seen as diffusion due to (1) the temperature increase during shock loading (shock temperature) and (2) the remaining waste heat after adiabatic unloading (post shock temperature). Modeling of 4He diffusion in the main U,Th carrier phase apatite showed that post-shock temperatures of ~300 °C are necessary to explain observed losses. This temperature corresponds to the post-shock temperature calculated for bulk rocks shocked at about 40 GPa. From our investigation, data survey, and modeling, we conclude that the shock event during launch of the meteorites is the principal cause for 4He loss.

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