Primary Feldspar in the Semarkona LL3.00 Chondrite: Constraints on Chondrule Formation and Secondary Alteration

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Feldspar in ordinary chondrites (OCs) is often associated with thermal metamorphism, as a secondary mineral that forms from the crystallization of matrix and chondrule mesostasis. However, studies of feldspar in equilibrated OCs show that there is a range of plagioclase compositions within chondrules, some of which may be primary products of chondrule crystallization. It is important to recognize primary feldspar within chondrules because it can be used to help understand the secondary effects of thermal metamorphism and aqueous alteration. The presence of primary feldspar also provides important petrologic constraints on chondrule formation timescales. We undertook a careful study of Semarkona (LL3.00) and observed feldspar in 18% of chondrules. The feldspar is plagioclase covering a wide range of compositions (An2-An99) with little K-feldspar component (<Or3). We show that plagioclase is a primary igneous phase, based on grain morphology and compositions consistent with growth from a melt having the bulk compositions of the host chondrules. Based on experimental studies, the presence of plagioclase suggests chondrules cooled slowly at temperatures close to the solidus. We also observed several secondary features consistent with the aqueous alteration. These features include zoning of Na and Ca in plagioclase, heterogeneity in plagioclase compositions in altered chondrules, development of porosity from the dissolution of chondrule glass, and alteration of glass to phyllosilicates. Alteration of major Al-bearing phases, like plagioclase and glass, has important implications for interpretations of ages derived from Al-Mg dating of chondrules, if they have been affected by secondary processes.

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Original languageEnglish
JournalMetoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number1
Early online date3 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2019

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