NORTHWEST AFRICA 6962


Achondrite, ungrouped
(brachinite-like geochemistry, ferroan,
ureilite-like O-isotopic composition)

standby for nwa 6962 photo
Found 2011
no coordinates recorded

A single brown-colored meteorite weighing 59.8 g was found in Northwest Africa and subsequently purchased by M. Farmer from a Moroccan dealer at the 2011 Denver Mineral Show. A sample was analyzed at the University of Washington in Seattle (A. Irving and S. Kuehner) and NWA 6962 was classified as an ungrouped achondrite having some geochemical affinities to the brachinite group, although olivine in this meteorite is significantly more ferroan.

The interior appearance of NWA 6962 has been described as an aggregate of yellowish-brown olivine crystals containing melt inclusions composed of sodic plagioclase + chromite + Ni-free metal, along with an interstitial Na-rich silicate determined by Raman spectra to be nepheline or tridymite. In addition, scattered grains of Ti-poor Al-bearing chromite are present along with minor clinopyroxene (augite), merrillite, and fluorapatite, as well as sparse abundances of FeNi-metal and FeS grains.

Although NWA 6962 shows some mineralogical similarities to brachinites, its geochemical characteristics are inconsistent with a genetic relationship; e.g., Fe-enriched silicates, Fe/Mn ratios, and O-isotopic values (Dunlap et al., 2015). Oxygen-isotope values for NWA 6962 were ascertained (R. Tanaka, Okayama University, Japan), and the plot is near the CCAM line near the resolved fields for ureilites and the acapulcoite–lodranite clan (see the oxygen three-isotope plot). Notably, the O-isotopic values for NWA 6962 are very similar to those determined by N. Banerjee et al. (Western University, Canada) for the 124 g NWA 7680 (see the oxygen three-isotope plot). Since these two meteorites were both purchased in 2011 and have similar O-isotopic values, bulk compositions, and geochemical constitutions, it is considered that they are genetically related (Hyde et al., 2013, 2017).

Further studies of NWA 6962/7680 by Hyde et al. (2017), including major, minor, and trace elemental compositions, led to the conclusion that there is no obvious relationship to either the ureilites or the acapulcoite–lodranite clan. Since NWA 6962/7680 plot near the CCAM line and show similarities to some CM and CV clasts thought to originate from the interior of these asteroids, it is considered that NWA 6962/7680 could also derive from the deep interior of a primitive carbonaceous chondrite parent body.

Further studies of samples from both NWA 6962 and 7680 were conducted by Sanborn et al. (2018). Utilizing a coupled Δ17O vs. ε54Cr diagram, they demonstrated that NWA 6962/7680 plots within the CR/CH carbonaceous chondrite field represented by CR2 Renazzo and CH3 NWA 2210 (see diagram below). This plot is also proximate to that of the ungrouped carbonaceous achondrites NWA 6704 and pairings and NWA 011 and pairings, which suggests that a genetic relationship exists among them.

Chromium vs. Oxygen-isotope Plot
standby for o-cr diagram
click on diagram for a magnified view

Diagram credit: Sanborn et al., 49th LPSC, #2296 (2018)

Moreover, Sanborn et al. (2018) determined an absolute Mn– Cr age (anchored to D'Orbigny) for NWA 6962/7680 of 4.56376 (±0.00176) b.y., which is concordant with the ages calculated for NWA 6704/6693 and the NWA 011 pairing group. It has been proposed by many investigators that a large (~400 km diameter) differentiated CR parent body formed in the early history of the solar system and subsequently experienced a collisional disruption. For more information pertaining to this scenario, see the LPSC abstract '"Primitive" and igneous achondrites related to the large and differentiated CR parent body' by Bunch et al. (2005), the MetSoc abstract 'Tafassasset and Primitive Achondrites: Records of Planetary Differentiation' by Nehru et al. (2014), and the LPSC abstract 'Collisional Disruption of a Layered, Differentiated CR Parent Body Containing Metamorphic and Igneous Lithologies Overlain by a Chondrite Veneer' by Irving et al. (2014). Efforts to better resolve the relationship that exists among CR chondrites and other anomalous meteorites continues.

Northwest Africa 6962 shows evidence for low shock and a low degree of terrestrial weathering. The specimen of NWA 6962 shown above is a 0.547 g slice.