A carbon-rich region in Miller Range 091004 and implications for ureilite petrogenesis

Day, JMD, Corder CA, Cartigny P, M. SA, Assayag N, Rumble D, Taylor LA.  2017.  A carbon-rich region in Miller Range 091004 and implications for ureilite petrogenesis. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 198:379-395.

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Ureilite meteorites are partially melted asteroidal-peridotite residues, or more rarely, cumulates that can contain greater than three weight percent carbon. Here we describe an exceptional C-rich lithology, composed of 34 modal% large (up to 0.8 mm long) crystalline graphite grains, in the Antarctic ureilite meteorite Miller Range (MIL) 091004. This C-rich lithology is embedded within a silicate region composed dominantly of granular olivine with lesser quantities of low-Ca pyroxene, and minor FeNi metal, high-Ca pyroxene, spinel, schreibersite and troilite. Petrological evidence indicates that the graphite was added after formation of the silicate region and melt depletion. Associated with graphite is localized reduction of host olivine (Fo88-89) to nearly pure forsterite (Fo99), which is associated with FeNi metal grains containing up to 11 wt.% Si. The main silicate region is typical of ureilite composition, with highly siderophile element (HSE) abundances ∼0.3 × chondrite, 187Os/188Os of 0.1260 to 0.1262 and Δ17O of -0.81 ±0.16‰. Mineral trace-element analyses reveal that the rare earth elements (REE) and the HSE are controlled by pyroxene and FeNi metal phases in the meteorite, respectively. Modelling of bulk-rock REE and HSE abundances indicates that the main silicate region experienced ∼6% silicate and >50% sulfide melt extraction, which is at the lower end of partial melt removal estimated for ureilites. Miller Range 091004 demonstrates heterogeneous distribution of carbon at centimeter scales and a limited range in Mg/(Mg+Fe) compositions of silicate grain cores, despite significant quantities of carbon. These observations demonstrate that silicate rim reduction was a rapid disequilibrium process, and came after silicate and sulfide melt removal in MIL 091004. The petrography and mineral chemistry of MIL 091004 is permissive of the graphite representing late-stage C-rich melt that pervaded silicates, or carbon that acted as a lubricant during anatexis and impact disruption in the parent body. Positive correlation of Pt/Os ratios with olivine core compositions, but a wide range of oxygen isotope compositions, indicates that ureilites formed from a compositionally heterogeneous parent body that experienced variable sulfide and metal melt-loss that is most pronounced in relatively oxidized ureilites with Δ17O between -1.5 and ∼0‰.