Alex Ruzicka

Date of Award

Spring 6-16-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 94 pages)


Chondrites (Meteorites) -- Analysis, Metamorphism (Geology), Breccia




To constrain the thermal histories of two complex L chondrite melt breccia samples (NWA 5964 and NWA 6580) we compare textures and chemical compositions of metal and sulfide to L melt rock (NWA 6454 and NWA 6579) and strongly shocked (shock stage S6) (NWA 4860) samples. The inferred thermal histories can be used to evaluate formation settings on the L chondrite parent body. The L melt samples probably formed as different melt units within warm but largely unmelted material relatively close to the surface of the parent body, and the same is true for the S6 sample, except it experienced less melting. The breccia samples likely formed deeper, below different impact craters, by the injection of shock melt into a cooler chondritic basement. Carbide grains in the melt breccias could have formed by a contact metamorphic process caused by heating of the chondritic basement in proximity to the melt. Within the melt regions of the various samples, inferred cooling rates are on the order of 1-10 °C/sec, whereas in the chondritic portions of the melt breccias, the inferred cooling rates are many orders of magnitude slower, ~1-100 °C/My. The complex intergrowths of metal and FeS (hereafter referred to as dendritic grains) within the melt are recording cooling rates above the metal-sulfide eutectic, while the metal grains outside of the melt regions are recording cooling rates at much lower temperatures. It is likely the melt regions in the breccias cooled substantially prior to coming to rest against the chondritic basement, and thereafter the melt-chondrite rocks cooled more slowly.

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