Bulk mineralogical changes of hydrous micrometeorites during heating in the upper atmosphere at temperatures below 1000 °C

Wataru Nozaki, Tomoki Nakamura, Takaaki Noguchi

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48 Citations (Scopus)


Small particles 200 μm in diameter from the hydrous carbonaceous chondrites Orgueil CI, Murchison CM2, and Tagish Lake were experimentally heated for short durations at subsolidus temperatures under controlled ambient pressures in order to examine the bulk mineralogical changes of hydrous micrometeorites during atmospheric entry. The three primitive meteorites consist mainly of various phyllosilicates and carbonates that are subject to decomposition at low temperatures, and thus the brief heating up to 1000 °C drastically changed the mineralogy. Changes included shrinkage of interlayer spacing of saponite due to loss of molecular water at 400-600 °C, serpentine and saponite decomposition to amorphous phases at 600 and 700 °C, respectively, decomposition of Mg-Fe carbonate at 600 °C, recrystallization of secondary olivine and Fe oxide or metal at 700-800 °C, and recrystallization of secondary low-Ca pyroxene at 800 °C. The ambient atmospheric pressures controlled species of secondary Fe phase: taenite at pressures lower than 10-2 torr, magnesiowüstite from 10-3 to 10-1 torr, and magnetite from 10-2 to 1 torr. The abundance of secondary low-Ca pyroxene increases in the order of Murchison, Orgueil, and Tagish Lake, and the order corresponds to saponite abundance in samples prior to heating. Mineralogy of the three unmelted micrometeorites F96CI024, kw740052, and kw740054 were investigated in detail in order to estimate heating conditions. The results showed that they might have come from different parental objects, carbonate-rich Tagish Lake type, carbonate-poor Tagish Lake or CI type, and CM type, respectively, and experienced different peak temperatures, 600, 700, and 800-900 °C, respectively, at 60-80 km altitude upon atmospheric entry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1095-1114
Number of pages20
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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