May 18, 2024

Black Beauty: Shock Damage in Martian Zircon a “One-Off Gift” From Mars

The meteorite, colloquially understood as Black Beauty, is a rare sample of the surface area of Mars. High-pressure shock deformation has not formerly been discovered in any minerals from Black Beauty. This discovery of shock damage in a 4.45 billion-year-old Martian zircon provides brand-new evidence of vibrant processes that impacted the surface area of early Mars,” Ms. Cox said.

Designated Northwest Africa (NWA) 7034, and nicknamed “Black Beauty,” the Martian meteorite weighs around 11 ounces (320 grams). Credit: NASA
Curtin University scientists studying a Martian meteorite have found the first evidence of high-intensity damage triggered by asteroid impact, in findings that have implications for understanding when conditions appropriate for life may have existed on early Mars..
Released in leading journal Science Advances, the research taken a look at grains of the mineral zircon in Martian meteorite NWA 7034. The meteorite, informally called Black Beauty, is an uncommon sample of the surface area of Mars. The initial 320-gram rock was discovered in northern Africa and first reported in 2013.
Lead author Morgan Cox, a PhD candidate from Curtins Space Science and Technology Centre (SSTC) in the School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, described the meteorite as a collection of broken rock pieces and minerals, primarily basalt, that became a rock and solidified with time. A zircon discovered inside the meteorite maintains proof of damage that just happens throughout large meteorite effects.

NWA 7034 showing fusion crusted outside (left) and sawcut revealing interior (right), both images with a 1 cm cube for scale. Credit: Institute of Meteoritics, UNM.
” This grain is really a one-off gift from the Red Planet. High-pressure shock contortion has actually not previously been found in any minerals from Black Beauty. This discovery of shock damage in a 4.45 billion-year-old Martian zircon provides brand-new evidence of vibrant processes that affected the surface of early Mars,” Ms. Cox said.
” The kind of shock damage in the Martian zircon involves twinning, and has actually been reported from all of the greatest effect websites in the world, consisting of the one in Mexico that exterminated the dinosaurs, as well as the Moon, but not previously from Mars.”.
Co-author Dr. Aaron Cavosie, also from Curtins SSTC, said the occurrence of zircon grains in the Black Beauty meteorite supplied physical evidence of large influence on early Mars, and had implications for the habitability of the young world.
” Prior studies of zircon in Martian meteorites proposed that conditions appropriate for life might have existed by 4.2 billion years ago based on the absence of definitive shock damage,” Dr. Cavosie stated.
” Mars remained based on effect bombardment after this time, on the scale known to trigger mass terminations in the world. The zircon we describe offers proof of such impacts, and highlights the possibility that the habitability window might have occurred behind formerly believed, maybe coinciding with evidence for liquid water on Mars by 3.9 to 3.7 billion years back.”.
Reference: “Impact and habitability scenarios for early Mars revisited based on a 4.45-Ga stunned zircon in regolith breccia” 2 February 2022, Science Advances.DOI: 10.1126/ sciadv.abl7497.
The research team likewise included partners from The University of Western Australia and the University of Glasgow.