Meteorite evidence for deep crustal magma chambers on Mars suggests crustal growth driven by underplating and intrusion
Dalton, Heather Anne
Master of Science
Meteorite RBT04262 is one of only two Martian meteorites made of composite lithologies. Lithology 1 is composed of coarse-grained olivines enclosed in poikilitic pigeonites, resembling lherzolitic shergottites. Lithology 2 is finer-grained and composed of olivine phenocrysts set within a groundmass of augite, olivine, plagioclase (shocked to maskelynite) and accessory phases such as Ca-phosphates, representing an olivine-phyric shergottite. Lithology 1 may be an early-formed cumulate while Lithology 2 may represent a cooled liquid laden with accumulated olivine crystals. Geochemical and textural observations suggest that all components of RBT04262 formed as intrusions. As the majority of Martian meteorites also have a cumulate origin, it is speculated here that crust formation on Mars may be dominated by magmatic underplating or intrusion rather than by subaerial flows. An intrusive-origin for Martian crust has important implications as intrusions can reset the radiometric ages or magnetic signatures of the Martian crust without erasing the cratering history.