A single fusion-crusted stone weighing 45.8 g was found in the Sahara Desert region and later sold to G. Hupé at the 2013 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. This meteorite was analyzed at the University of Washington in Seattle (A. Irving and S. Kuehner) and NWA 7822 was determined to be a dunitic lithology with olivine FeO/MnO ratios and O-isotopic values consistent with many other diverse meteorites hypothesized to belong to an extensive CV-clan (see the O-isotopic plot; K. Ziegler, UNM). In their continued analyses of this meteorite, Sanborn et al. (2015) demonstrated that NWA 7822 plots close to the CV chondrites on a Δ17O vs. ε54Cr coupled diagram (see diagram below). This meteorite is composed predominantly of pale-yellow olivine (>90 vol%) with a small component of interstitial clinopyroxene and plagioclase, along with low abundances of the typical opaque phases (taenite, troilite, and chromite).
Collisional Disruption of a Primary Planetary Body
It has been posited by some investigators that numerous large planetary bodies accreted very early in Solar System history, many of which fatefully suffered catastrophic collisional disruption soon thereafter. As an example, Blackburn et al. (2017) and Edwards et al. (2017) calculated the timing of the catastrophic disruption of the H- and L-chondrite parent bodies to be ~60 m.y. after CAIs. This timing is consistent with two competing dating techniquesPbPb (and HfW) chronometry and metallographic cooling rates (Ni diffusion profiles in Fe-metal)which record cooling associated with both an onion shell structure prior to disruption and a rubble pile after disruption, respectively. In addition, it was proposed by Irving et al. (2009) that the diverse meteorite lithologies with similar O-isotopic compositions to the HED clan of meteorites, generally considered to be derived from the asteroid 4 Vesta, were once part of an even larger former differentiated planetary body that they named "Opis" (the mother of Vesta in Greek mythology).
Another such hypothesized collisionally-disaggregated planetary body (here named "Antaeus") was conceived by Irving et al. (2004) to have comprised many diverse lithologies, here expanded upon to include the following: a metallic core region composed of CC-group iron like IIF Del Rio (Kracher et al., 1980) or ungrouped Santa Clara and South Byron (Corrigan et al., 2017; Hilton et al., 2018); a coremantle boundary or upper mantle impact-melted zone composed of a metal+silicate assemblage that corresponds to the Milton pallasite (Sanborn et al., 2018), along with the NWA 176 (related to Bocaiuva; Liu, 2001) silicated iron; a dunitic mantle zone possibly represented by NWA 7822; an intensely thermally-metamorphosed stratigraphy resembling the NWA 3133 and NWA 10503 metachondrites (Irving et al., 2004; Irving et al., 2016; Sanborn et al., 2018); and a thick insulating crust (~20 km; Davison et al., 2013), possibly involving a late accretionary stage, comprising a primitive chondruleCAI-rich regolith consisting of at least two distinct lithological zones comprising oxidized Allende-like and highly aqueously-altered Bali-like material. A possible reduced lithology represented by Vigarano may be present on the same parent body; however, Gattacceca et al. (2020) contend that this meteorite represents a separate closely-related parent body. Weiss and Elkins-Tanton (2013) cited Jogo et al. (2013) for their discovery of heavily metamorphosed and/or partially melted clasts in the two brecciated CV3 chondrites Mokoia and Y-86009, attesting to high temperatures (≥830°C) in the parent body (see diagram below). In addition, a trachybasalt clast (UH154-11) identified in the El Djouf 001 CR chondrite may be the first representative of a very low-degree (≤5%) partial melt derived from the early crust of the CV parent body (Aléon et al., 2019, 2020; see details farther down on this page). The detailed petrogenetic sequences by which each of the meteorites noted above acquired their present form, and the question as to whether these events occurred before, during, or after a catastrophic disruption of the primary planetary body (or were associated with post-disruption daughter objects), are subjects which are still under investigation.
Metamorphosed Chondritic Clasts in CV3 Chondrites
Diagram credit: Weiss and Elkins-Tanton, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, vol. 41, pp. 529560 (2013, open accesslink)
'Differentiated Planetesimals and the Parent Bodies of Chondrites'
Importantly, the O- and Cr-isotopic signatures of Eagle Station have been used to establish a formation age of 4.557 b.y., or 11 m.y. years after CAI formation. And as shown by Dauphas et al. (2005), application of the HfW isotopic chronometer to Eagle Station also gives a relatively late metalsilicate segregation for Eagle Station of ~10 m.y. after differentiation of the HED parent body 4 Vesta (which occurred as early as 1.3 m.y. after CAI formation; Schiller et al., 2010). Because it was calculated that melting and coremantle differentiation due to radiogenic heating should cease after ~78 m.y. (Sahijpal et al., 2007), it may be inferred that heating of the Eagle Station asteroid continued until after all radiogenic 26Al and 60Fe was extinct, and that such late heating would have been generated through large impact events. In support of that reasoning, Wasson (2016) presented evidence showing that the slow heating generated entirely by the decay of 26Al is insufficient to melt asteroids, and that an additional heat source would have been required; e.g., the rapid heating incurred from major impact events. He determined that the canonical 26Al/27Al ratio of 0.000052 is much too low to cause any significant melting, and that a minimum ratio of 0.00001 would be required to produce a 20% melt fraction on a well-insulated body having a significant concentration of 26Al. For example, the initial ratio of 0.00000040.0000005 calculated for the angrites Sah 99555 and D'Orbigny based on their 26Al26Mg isochrons is too low to have generated any significant melting without an additional heat source. Therefore, impacts were a major source of heating in early solar system history.
Likewise, the formation scenario envisioned for the silicated irons NWA 176 and Bocaiuva is consistent with impact-heating events on a small-sized asteroid. The final mixing event was accompanied by an initial rapid-cooling stage beginning at the metalsilicate equilibrium temperature of ~1100°C, and was sustained down to ~600°C. This was followed by a slow cooling stage in which a Thomson (Widmanstätten) structure was formed (Desnoyers et al., 1985). Another fast cooling stage was initiated between approximately 600°C and 300°C as indicated by the absence of tetrataenite and other petrographic features (Araujo et al., 1983). There are major structural similarities between the NWA 176 and Bocaiuva silicated irons and those silicated iron members of the IIE and IAB complex iron groups. This suggests that similar impact processes, such as a catastrophic breakup event, occurred on each of these relatively small, nonmagmatic parent bodies; however, only the IIF irons and the Eagle Station pallasites share any significant geochemical similarities with NWA 176 and Bocaiuva (Bunch et al., 1970; Curvello et al., 1983). Notably, NWA 176, Bocaiuva, and the Eagle Station pallasites, as well as other distinct meteorite lithologies, have similar O- and/or Cr-isotopic compositions to the CV chondrites (Clayton and Mayeda., 1996; Liu et al, 2001; Shukolyukov and Lugmair, 2001). Taking the many similarities into account, it seems likely that these otherwise disparate meteorites originated on a common chondritic precursor parent body (Malvin et al., 1985).
In an effort to better resolve potential genetic relationships that might exist among the meteorites mentioned above associated with the hypothetical Antaeus, a Cr-isotopic analysis of olivine from the Milton pallasite was conducted by Sanborn et al. (2018). It is demonstrated on a coupled Δ17O vs. ε54Cr diagram (shown below) that Milton plots among the CV clan and plausibly shares a genetic relationship, but also that Eagle Station plots closer to the CK (or CO) chondrite group. It could be inferred that both the CV and CK planetesimals experienced a similar petrogenetic history in a similar isotopic reservoir of the nascent Solar System.
ε54Cr vs. Δ17O Isotope Plot
click on image for a magnified view
Diagram credit: Sanborn et al., 49th LPSC, #1780 (2018)
Notably, a formation scenario for pallasites was proposed by Asphaug et al. (2006) and Danielson et al. (2009) in which the wide variation in metalsilicate textures and bulk compositions that is observed among MG pallasite members is the result of a grazing collision between partially molten planetary embryos. They assert that such a collision resulted in the formation of a chain of smaller objects having diverse compositions. It might be more than coincidental that the O-isotopic composition of the Milton pallasite plots proximate to the trend line of the Eagle Station group pallasites (now termed the Allende Mixing line: slope = 0.94 ±0.01). Both of these rapidly-cooled pallasites contain high concentrations of the refractory siderophile element Ir relative to main-group (MG) pallasites (Jones et al., 2003), and they both have overlapping Fe and Ni abundances (wt%) in their metal component; however, significant variations observed in their minor and trace element concentrations indicate that they each experienced different crystallization processes (Hillebrand, 2004). Still, there is a good possibility that one or both of these pallasites did share a common precursor parent body with the CV clan of meteorites, at least prior to any collisional disruption event.
Diagram adapted from Korochantsev et al., 2013
With the advent of better investigative techniques, scientists have explored the possibility of a genetic relationship between IVB irons and other meteorite groups based on O-isotopic analyses. Utilizing chromite grains from IVB irons Warburton Range and Hoba, Corrigan et al. (2017) found that IVB irons share close similarities to the South Byron trio irons (Babb's Mill [Troost's], South Byron, and Inland Forts [ILD] 83500)Milton pallasite grouping (MSB in diagram below). Moreover, the O-isotopic compositions of the IVB irons and the South Byron trioMilton grouping fall within the range of the oxidized CV and CK chondrites.
Diagram credit: Corrigan et al., 48h LPSC, #2556 (2017)
Subsequent to the catastrophic disruption of the primary planetary body that is envisioned here, and the sorting and re-accretion of material into a number of daughter objects, multiple impacts onto these small asteroids could have led to the formation of sub-surface melt pools tens of meters in size. Differentiation of these melt pools would have resulted in cumulus olivine sequestered above a metal layer, and an olivine residuum that had drained below this metal layera complex assemblage from which associated pallasitic and silicated-iron lithologies could be derived thereafter during less-energetic, rapidly-cooled impact events (Malvin et al., 1985). The anomalously-high Ir contents measured in some of the associated metalsilicate mixtures (e.g., Eagle Station grouplet, Milton) and segregated metal regions (IIF irons, South Byron trio) would be consistent with metal that crystallized at the lowest levels of the melt chamber. Such late-stage, rapidly-cooled, impact-heating events could have allowed for the retention of the original O- and Cr-isotopic composition of the primary planetary body (Humayun and Weiss, 2011 and references therein). The differences that exist in δ54Cr between chromite and olivine in the Eagle Station pallasite, but which are not observed in CV chondrites, could be the result of a distinct Cr source associated with impact projectile(s) which eventually led to the formation of the Eagle Station-type pallasites and other related lithologies (Papanastassiou and Chen (2011).
An important igneous clast designated UH154-11 was identified by Aléon et al. (2020) in the CR chondrite El Djouf 001. UH154-11 is an early planetary differentiate with a trachybasaltic chemical composition and an O-isotopic composition nearly identical to that of Mokoia (CVoxA). It formed by very low degree (<10%) partial melting of a carbonaceous chondrite precursor at ~1100°C. The crystal texture in UH154-11 is consistent with an extended crystallization period at increasing cooling rates and some degree of supercooling, akin to an ascending magma within a dyke. This clast may represent anatexis of crustal rock that intruded the undifferentiated uppermost layer on a fully differentiated body. Such a body could have generated a coremantle dynamo. Two scenarios for both the alteration history of this clast and the final structure of the CV parent body were presented by Aléon et al. (2020) (see schematic illustrations below).
Two Scenarios for the Alteration History of Clast UH154-11
click on image for a magnified view
Two Scenarios for a CV Parent Body Structure ~4 m.y. After CAIs
click on image for a magnified view
Schematic diagrams credit: Aléon et al., PNAS vol. 117, #15, pp. 83538359 (2020)
'Alkali magmatism on a carbonaceous chondrite planetesimal'
In addition, Kaminski et al. (2020) and Sturtz et al. (2021, 2022) developed a thermal evolution model of early accreted planetesimals (within the first few m.y.) involving a convecting magma ocean (onset at 40% partial melt) underneath a stable, conductive, viscous chondritic lid only a few km thick (see schematic illustrations below). These conditions will effectuate crystalmelt segregation and eventually metalsilicate segregation. During the time period in which the volume fraction of crystals in suspension remains below 60%, they will segregate according to buoyancy properties (e.g., crystal radius, relative density and volume fraction) to form, in an ~90:10 volume ratio, an olivine-rich basal cumulate and a silica- or plagioclase-rich flotation crust. Metalsilicate segregation will ensue rapidly once the volume fraction of crystals in suspension reaches 60% and the viscosity is reduced to a liquid-like state. Repeated cycles of crustal remelting and recrystallization can occur before internal heat generation ceases.
Planetesimal Differentiation With Magma Ocean Episode
click on image for a magnified view
Illustrations credit: Sturtz et al., Icarus, vol. 385, art. 115100, figs. 3a,b (2022, open accesslink)
'Structure of differentiated planetesimals: a chondritic fridge on top of a magma ocean'
On an oxygen three-isotope diagram (see example below), the CO chondrites plot along the Allende Mixing trend line (former CCAM line), overlapping near the middle of the CV chondrite field. There is a possibility that the CO chondrite group, of which Isna is a marginally equilibrated example (type 3.75), is also implicated in the sequence of events that led to the formation of the diverse CV clan of meteorites as outlined aboveperhaps as another of the daughter objects that accreted after a catastrophic disruption of the primary planetary body. It could be deduced that subsequent impacts involving many of these daughter objects sent fragments into storage orbits within the outer asteroid belt. Further fragmentation events (collisional cascade processes), along with the Yarkovsky effect, would have delivered samples into mean motion resonances with some fragments eventually achieving Earth-crossing orbits.
click on image for a magnified view
Diagram credit: Irving et al., 79th MetSoc, #6461 (2016)
The hypothesis of multiple daughter objects being formed following the catastrophic disruption of a large, partially differentiated, primary planetary body could allow for the potential inclusion of several less closely-related meteorites. These may include the high-Ni irons of the South Byron trio (South Byron, ILD 83500, and Babb's Mill), which have metallographic compositions (especially siderophile element patterns) and structures similar to the metal in Milton, including kamacite spindles and associated schreibersite, consistent with their formation on the same parent body (Reynolds et al., 2006). These three irons and the metal component in Milton experienced a similar oxidation history during formation; they each have similar depletions of easily oxidized elements as well as similar abundances of siderophiles (McCoy et al., 2008). In addition to the irons mentioned above, several other ungrouped ataxites may be genetically related to this high-Ni iron group, including El Qoseir, Illinois Gulch, Morradal, Nordheim, and Tucson (Kissin, 2010). However, significant differences that exist between their refractory element contents compared to those of the South Byron trio requires further work to establish a specific relationship.
The metal in each of these high-Ni iron meteorites and in Milton is consistent with early crystallization from a metallic melt phase that experienced a low degree of fractionation. Similarly, the FeNi-metal component of one member of the Eagle Station grouplet, Itzawisis, was derived from a metallic melt source consistent with that of a differentiated, oxidized-CV source before 20% fractionation had occurred. In a like manner, the metal in Eagle Station derives from a 20% fractionated source (Humayun and Weiss, 2011), while another member of the grouplet, Cold Bay, was shown to derive from a melt source that crystallized after 40% fractionation. The most recent member of the Eagle Station grouplet to be analyzed, Karavannoe, crystallized from an even more evolved metallic melt that had undergone >60% fractionationthough still not as evolved as the source melt from which MG pallasite metal crystallized. Karavannoe FeNi-metal has a lower Ni content than the other members of the grouplet (Korochantsev et al., 2013), and measurements show that its Ir content is intermediate between that of Eagle Station and Milton.
An O-isotopic analysis was conducted by Ali et al. (2020) of various chondrule types in Allende and then compared to the oxygen isotope values previously determined for the Eagle Station Group pallasites and the ungrouped achondrites closely related to the CV group. They ascertained that the slopes for each of these groups when considered independently have very slight differences, although a broader scope would suggest they are all related through their precursors in a common reservoir at the very least (see diagram below).
O-isotopes for ES Pallasites, CV3 Chondrules, and Ungrouped Achondrites
Red-dotted line: Allende bulk chondrules (slope = 0.86)
Red-dashed line: Eagle Station Group (slope = 0.76
Gray-dashed line: ESUA trend line (slope = 0.910.92)
click on diagram for a magnified view
Diagram credit: Ali et al., 51st LPSC, #1815 (2020)
Ali and Jabeen (2021) subsequently performed a broader study utilizing a combined OCrMo isotopic data set for CV3 Allende chondrules, Eagle Station pallasites, and several potentially related ungrouped achondrites (NWA 3133 [CV7], NWA 7822, NWA 8186, NWA 10503/10859, NWA 12264) and ungrouped irons (Bocaiuva, Deep Springs, Mbosi, NWA 176, Tucson). All of these meteorites plot broadly along the Young and Russell (Y&R slope = 1.00) and primitive chondrules mineral (PCM slope = 0.99) lines which are considered to represent the most primitive nebular material. Their analyses further demonstrate that both differentiated and undifferentiated meteorites could at one time have represented various componentscore, coremantle boundary, mantle, and crustof a common planetesimal (see diagram below).
O-isotopes for ES Pallasites, CV3 Chondrules, Ungrouped Achondrites, and Ungrouped Irons
Dotted line: Allende bulk chondrules (ABC slope = 0.86)
Dashed line: ESP, ung. achondrites, ung. irons (ESPAI slope = 0.99)
Long-dashed line: Eagle Station pallasites (ESP slope = 0.76)
Y&R and PCM lines not shown below, but see Fig. 2 of article
click on diagram for a magnified view
Diagram credit: Ali and Jabeen, MAPS, vol. 56, #2, p. 397 (2021)
'Evaluating the O-Cr-Mo isotope signatures in various meteorites representing coremantlecrust fragments: Implications for partially differentiated planetesimal(s) accreted in the early outer solar system'
Further evidence for a large differentiated planetary body having CV-trends lies in the fact that CV chondrites acquired a strong unidirectional natural remanent magnetization ~9 m.y. after CAI formation, reflecting the existence of an internal core dynamo (e.g., Weiss et al., 2010; Elkins-Tanton et al., 2011; Carporzen et al., 2010, 2011; Gattacceca et al., 2013, 2016). Employing multiple investigation techniques, Shah et al. (2017) investigated the paleointensity of 19 Vigarano chondrules and found values of 1.1150 µT. The observed magnetic remanence is considered to have been acquired during brecciation events that occurred ~7 m.y. after initial parent body accretion, with impact shock pressures reaching 1020 GPa. Therefore, they reason that the original paleofield would have been ~40 µT, which is too high to be attributable to the solar wind field, but is in the range of that expected for a planetary core dynamo.
New high-resolution techniques such as super-conducting quantum interference device (SQUID) microscopy and quantum diamond microscopy (QDM) have enabled significant improvements in resolution for paleomagnetic field imaging (Nichols, 2021). Using QDM to obtain grain-scale resolution in Allende, Fu et al. (2021) found that only FeS grains (pyrrhotite) have a unidirection remanent magnetization, acquired after accretion of the CV parent body, whereas FeNi-metal grains (awaruite) have a random magnetic orientation; such a dichotomy is inconsistent with a thermal acquisition process. Fu et al. (2021) argue that the mechanism of remanence acquisition in the CV chondrite Allende is most likely a chemical remanent magnetization originating during aqueous alteration, instead of a thermal remanent magnetization (e.g., core dynamo) or a shock remanent magnetization. Based on the early timing of FeS formation at 3.04.2 m.y after CAIs, Fu et al. (2021) consider that a nebular magnetic field was the source of the ≥40 µT Allende paleointensity, and that such a strong magnetic field intensity may be associated with a nebula gap created by the accreting planetesimal and/or related to a magnetohydrodynamical instability.
As research continues, further evidence for the catastrophic disruption of this former primary body could help advance one of these competing paleomagnetism hypotheses (see the Allende page for further information). The photo shown above is a 1.0 g partial slice of the dunite NWA 7822, while photos of a complete slice and the original stone are shown below.