The authors present quantative elemental compositions and summarize textural evidence for the pre-terrestrial origin of rust on the Nakhla meteorite. The material in question is called 'rust' because its phase composition remains unknown. Compelling evidence for the pre-terrestrial origin of the rust is found in rust veins truncated by fusion crust and preserved as faults in sutured igneous crystals. Rust veins that approach the meteorite's fusion crust become discontinuous and exhibit vugs that suggest partial decrepitation; no veins that penetrate the fusion crust have been found. Because the rust probably contains volatile compounds, it is reasonable to expect that heating near the ablation surface (formed during atmospheric entry to Earth) would encourage devolatilization of the rust. Hence, the absence of rust veins in fusion crust and vugs in rust veins near fusion crust clearly imply that the rust existed in the meteorite before atmospheric entry.
Mars: Evolution of Volcanism, Techtonics, and Volatiles
- Pub Date:
- Atmospheric Entry;
- Chemical Composition;
- Lunar and Planetary Exploration