Petrology and trace element geochemistry of Robert Massif 04261 and 04262 meteorites, the first examples of geochemically enriched lherzolitic shergottites

Tomohiro Usui, Matthew Sanborn, Meenakshi Wadhwa, Harry Y. McSween

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Shergottites sampled two distinct geochemical reservoirs on Mars. Basaltic and olivine-phyric shergottites individually sampled both geochemically enriched and depleted reservoirs, whereas lherzolitic shergottites are previously known only to exhibit a relatively limited intermediate geochemical signature that may have resulted from the mixing of the two geochemical end-member reservoirs. Here we show that recently discovered shergottites Robert Massif (RBT) 04261 and RBT 04262 are the first examples of lherzolitic shergottites originating from the enriched reservoir.RBT 04261 and RBT 04262, initially identified as olivine-phyric shergottites, are actually lherzolitic shergottites. Both meteorites exhibit nearly identical textures and mineral compositions, suggesting that they should be paired. Each consists of two distinct textures: poikilitic and non-poikilitic. The poikilitic areas are composed of pyroxene oikocrysts enclosing olivine grains; all pyroxene oikocrysts have pigeonite cores mantled by augite. The non-poikilitic areas are composed of olivine, pyroxene, maskelynite and minor amounts of merrillite, chromite and ilmenite. Olivine and pyroxene show the lowest Mg-number, and maskelynite has the lowest anorthite component among the lherzolitic shergottites. Moreover, the modal abundances of maskelynite in these two meteorites are distinctly higher than the other lherzolitic shergottites.The rare earth element (REE) budgets of RBT 04261 and RBT 04262 are dominated by merrillite. The slightly light rare earth element (LREE)-enriched pattern of this mineral is similar to that of merrillite in the geochemically enriched basaltic shergottites Shergotty and Zagami, and unlike the LREE-depleted pattern of merrillite in the other lherzolitic shergottites. The REE patterns of both high- and low-Ca pyroxenes are also similar to those in Shergotty and Zagami. The REE pattern of a melt calculated to be in equilibrium with the core of a pyroxene oikocryst is parallel to that of the RBT 04262 whole-rock as well as whole-rock compositions of other geochemically enriched basaltic shergottites. These observations imply that RBT 04262 sampled an enriched and oxidized reservoir similar to that sampled by some of the basaltic shergottites and are consistent with an oxidizing condition for the formation of RBT 04262 (logfO2=QFM-1.6).The petrographic and geochemical observations presented here suggest that RBT 04261 and RBT 04262 represent the most evolved magma among the lherzolitic shergottites and that this magma originated from a geochemically enriched reservoir on Mars. Based on an evaluation of the relationship between petrographic, geochemical and chronological signatures for shergottites including RBT 04261 and RBT 04262, we propose that both geochemically enriched and depleted shergottites were ejected from the same launch site on Mars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7283-7306
Number of pages24
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 15 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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