Mantle material in the main belt: Battered to bits?

The complete (or near complete) differentiation of a chondritic parent body is believed to result in an object with an Fe-Ni core, a thick olivine-dominated mantle and a thin plagioclase/pyroxene crust. Compositional groupings of iron meteorites give direct evidence that at least 60 chondritic parent bodies have been differentiated and subsequently destroyed. A long standing problem has been that our meteorite collections, and apparently our asteroid observations as well, show a great absence of olivine-dominated metal-free mantle material. While the basaltic achondrites (HED meteorites) represent metal-free pyroxene-dominated crustal samples, the isotopic and geochemical evidence implies that this class is derived from only one parent body (perhaps Vesta). Thus the meteoritic (and perhaps astronomical) evidence also suggests a great absence of crustal material resulting from the collisional disruption of numerous parent bodies.


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