What metal-troilite textures can tell us about post-impact metamorphism in chondrite meteorites

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    Metal-troilite textures are examined in metamorphosed and impact-affected ordinary chondrites to examine the response of these phases to rapid changes in temperature. Complexly intergrown metal-troilite textures are shown to form in response to three different impact-related processes. (1) During impacts, immiscible melt emulsions form in response to spatially focused heating. (2) Immediately after impact events, re-equilibration of heterogeneously distributed heat promotes metamorphism adjacent to zones of maximum impact heating. Where temperatures exceed ˜850 ° C, this post-impact metamorphism results in melting of conjoined metal-troilite grains in chondrites that were previously equilibrated through radiogenic metamorphism. When the resulting Fe-Ni-S melt domains crystallize, a finely intergrown mixture of troilite and metal forms, which can be zoned with kamacite-rich margins and taenite-rich cores. (3) At lower temperatures, post-impact metamorphism can also cause liberation of sulfur from troilite, which migrates into adjacent Fe-Ni metal, allowing formation of troilite and occasionally copper within the metal during cooling. Because impact events cause heating within a small volume, post-impact metamorphism is a short duration event (days to years) compared with radiogenic metamorphism (>106 years). The fast kinetics of metal-sulfide reactions allows widespread textural changes in conjoined metal-troilite grains during post-impact metamorphism, whereas the slow rate of silicate reactions causes these to be either unaffected or only partially annealed, except in the largest impact events. Utilizing this knowledge, information can be gleaned as to whether a given meteorite has suffered a post-impact thermal overprint, and some constraints can be placed on the temperatures reached and duration of heating.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1133 - 1149
    Number of pages17
    JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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