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

P. Gillet, J. A. Barrat, E. Deloule, M. Wadhwa, A. Jambon, V. Sautter, B. Devouard, D. Neuville, K. Benzerara, M. Lesourd

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69 Scopus citations


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 δ D values ranging from -60 to -280‰ in olivine and pyroxenes and from -140 to -181‰; in the alteration phase. The values of δD for the alteration product show a small scatter with a mean value of -170 ± 14‰;. These values are lower than those previously obtained on other Martian meteorites, which give mainly positive δD 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-444
Number of pages14
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 15 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Alteration
  • D/H
  • Geochemistry
  • Martian meteorites
  • Nakhlite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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