Infoscience

Journal article

Aqueous alteration in the Northwest Africa 817 (NWA 817) Martian meteorite

Samples of a new Martian meteorite of the nakhlite family (NWA 817) contain traces of an iron-rich alteration product. Textural arguments indicate that this alteration product has been formed on the parent body of the meteorite (Mars). The chemical composition and structural data (X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy and vibrational spectroscopy) show that the alteration mineral is a hydrous phase from the smectite family. Major elements and rare earth elements suggest that the formation of the alteration phase is related to the circulation of an aqueous fluid which composition is controlled by the dissolution of feldspars to account for a positive Eu anomaly, olivine and possibly apatite. Hydrogen isotope data display negative deltaD values ranging from -60 to -280parts per thousand in olivine and pyroxenes and from -140 to -181parts per thousand in the alteration phase. The values of deltaD for the alteration product show a small scatter with a mean value of -170 +/- 14parts per thousand. These values are lower than those previously obtained on other Martian meteorites, which give mainly positive deltaD values. These positive values have been interpreted as resulting from the interaction of the Martian meteorites with water from the Martian atmosphere. Ruling out the effect of terrestrial alteration, it is suggested that alteration in the NWA 817 meteorite was likely produced on Mars by the circulation of an aqueous fluid originating from a chemical reservoir, such as the Martian mantle, which has not equilibrated with a fractionated Martian atmosphere. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

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