Petrology and geochemistry of the fine-grained, unbrecciated diogenite Northwest Africa 4215

Barrat, J. A.; Beck, P.; Bohn, M.; Cotten, J.; Gillet, P.; Greenwood, R. C. and Franchi, Ian (2006). Petrology and geochemistry of the fine-grained, unbrecciated diogenite Northwest Africa 4215. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 41(7) pp. 1045–1057.



We report on the petrology and geochemistry of Northwest Africa (NWA) 4215, an unbrecciated diogenite recovered in the Sahara. This single stone, weighing 46.4 g, displays a well-preserved cumulative texture. It consists of zoned xenomorphic orthopyroxene grains on the order of 500 μm in size, along with a few large chromite crystals (<5 vol%, up to 3 mm). Accessory olivine and scarce diopside grains occur within the groundmass, usually around the chromite crystals. Minor phases are cristobalite, troilite, and metal. Unlike other diogenites, orthopyroxenes (En76.2Wo1.1Fs22.7 to En68.6Wo5.5Fs25.9), olivines (Fo76 to Fo71), and chromites (Mg# = 14.3 44.0, Cr# = 42.2-86.5) are chemically zoned. The minor element behavior in orthopyroxenes and the intricate chemical profiles obtained in chromites indicate that the zonings do not mirror the evolution of the parental melt. We suggest that they resulted from reaction of the crystals with intercumulus melt. In order to preserve the observed zoning profiles, NWA 4215 clearly cooled significantly faster than other diogenites. Indeed, the cooling rate determined from the diffusion of Cr in olivine abutting chromite is in the order of 10-50 °C/a, suggesting that NWA 4215 formed within a small, shallow intrusion.

The bulk composition of NWA 4215 has been determined for major and trace elements. This meteorite is weathered and its fractures are filled with calcite, limonite, and gypsum, typical of hot desert alteration. In particular, the FeO, CaO abundances and most of the trace element concentrations (Sr, Ba, Pb, and REE among others) are high and indicate a significant contribution from the secondary minerals. To remove the terrestrial contribution, we have leached with HCl a subsample of the meteorite. The residue, made essentially of orthopyroxene and chromite, has similar major and trace element abundances to diogenites as shown by the shape of its REE pattern or by its high Al/Ga ratio. The connection of NWA 4215 with diogenites is confirmed by its O-isotopic composition (δ17O = 1.431 ± 0.102‰, δ18O = 3.203 ± 0.205‰, Δ17O = -0.248 ± 0.005‰).

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