Properties of chondrules in EL3 chondrites, comparison with EH3 chondrites, and the implications for the formation of enstatite chondrites


The study of chondrules provides information about processes occurring in the early solar system. In order to ascertain to what extent these processes played a role in determining the properties of the enstatite chondrites, the physical and chemical properties of chondrules from three EL3 chondrites and three EH3 chondrites have been examined by optical, cathodoluminescence (CL), and electron microprobe techniques. Properties examined include size, texture, CL, and composition of both individual phases and bulk chondrules. The textures, distribution of textures, and composition of silicates of the EL3 chondrules resemble those of EH3 chondrules. However, the chondrules from the two classes differ in that (1) the size distribution of the EL chondrules is skewed to larger values than EH chondrules, (2) the enstatite in EL chondrules displays varying shades of red CL due to the presence of fine‐grained sulfides and metal in the silicates, and (3) the mesostasis of EH chondrules is enriched in Na relative to that of EL chondrules. The similarities between the chondrules of the two classes suggest similar precursor materials, while the differences suggest that there was not a single reservoir of meteoritic chondrules, but that their origin was fairly local. The differences in the size distribution of chondrules in EH and EL chondrites may be explained by aerodynamic and gravitational sorting during accumulation of the meteoric material, while differences in CL and mesostasis properties may reflect differences in formation conditions and cooling rate following chondrule formation. We argue that our observations are consistent with the formation of enstatite chondrites in a thick dynamic regolith on their parent body.

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Meteoritics & Planetary Science