The SNC meteorites: basaltic igneous processes on Mars

Bridges, J.C. and Warren, P.H (2006). The SNC meteorites: basaltic igneous processes on Mars. Journal of the Geological Society, 163(2) pp. 229–251.



A group of 31 meteorites (SNC group) was derived from Mars as a product of 4 – 7 ejection events, probably from Tharsis and Elysium-Amazonis. The SNCs either have basaltic mineralogy or some are ultramafic cumulates crystallised from basaltic melts. The SNCs can be classified both petrographically and geochemically. We classify the shergottite SNC meteorites on the basis of their LREE-depletion into Highly Depleted, Moderately Depleted and Slightly Depleted. The Slightly Depleted samples (which are mainly but not exclusively aphyric basalts) show high log oxygen fugacity values (QFM -1.0). Highly Depleted samples - which are mainly olivine-phyric basalts - have low log oxygen fugacity values (QFM -3.5). On the basis of mixing calculations between La/Lu and 87-Sr/86-Sr we favour models linking the correlation between LREE abundances and log oxygen fugacity to mantle heterogeneity rather than contamination by oxidised, LREE-rich crustal fluids. SNC chemistry in general reflects the Fe-rich mantle of Mars (x2 FeO that of the Earth), the late accretion of chondritic material into the mantle, and possibly the presence of a plagioclase-rich magma ocean which acted to variably deplete the mantle in Al. The high FeO contents of the SNC melts are associated with high melt densities (allowing the ponding of large magma bodies) and low viscosities, both of which are consistent with the large scale of many observed martian lava flows.

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