The goal of classifying shock metamorphic features in meteorites is to estimate the corresponding shock pressure conditions. However, the temperature variability of shock metamorphism is equally important and can result in a diverse and heterogeneous set of shock features in samples with a common overall shock pressure. In particular, high-pressure (HP) minerals, which were previously used as a solid indicator of high shock pressure in meteorites, require complex pressure–temperature–time (P–T–t) histories to form and survive. First, parts of the sample must be heated to melting temperatures, at high pressure, to enable rapid formation of HP minerals before pressure release. Second, the HP minerals must be rapidly cooled to below a critical temperature, before the pressure returns to ambient conditions, to avoid retrograde transformation to their low-pressure polymorphs. These two constraints require the sample to contain large temperature heterogeneities, e.g. melt veins in a cooler groundmass, during shock. In this study, we calculated shock temperatures and possible P–T paths of chondritic and differentiated mafic–ultramafic rocks for various shock pressures. These P–T conditions and paths, combined with observations from shocked meteorites, are used to constrain shock conditions and P–T–t histories of HP-mineral bearing samples. The need for rapid thermal quench of HP phases requires a relatively low bulk-shock temperature and therefore moderate shock pressures below ~ 30 GPa, which matches the stabilities of these HP minerals. The low-temperature moderate-pressure host rock generally shows moderate shock-deformation features consistent with S4 and, less commonly, S5 shock stages. Shock pressures in excess of 50 GPa in meteorites result in melt breccias with high overall post-shock temperatures that anneal out HP-mineral signatures. The presence of ringwoodite, which is commonly considered an indicator of the S6 shock stage, is inconsistent with pressures in excess of 30 GPa and does not represent shock conditions different from S4 shock conditions. Indeed, ringwoodite and coexisting HP minerals should be considered as robust evidence for moderate shock pressures (S4) rather than extreme shock (S6) near whole-rock melting. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
- High-pressure minerals
- Martian meteorite
- Shock metamorphism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Earth and Planetary Sciences