Based upon our characterization of three separate stones by electron and X-ray beam analyses, computed X-ray microtomography, Raman microspectrometry, and visible-IR spectrometry, Sutter's Mill is a unique regolith breccia consisting mainly of various CM lithologies. Most samples resemble existing available CM2 chondrites, consisting of chondrules and calcium-aluminum-rich inclusion (CAI) set within phyllosilicate-dominated matrix (mainly serpentine), pyrrhotite, pentlandite, tochilinite, and variable amounts of Ca-Mg-Fe carbonates. Some lithologies have witnessed sufficient thermal metamorphism to transform phyllosilicates into fine-grained olivine, tochilinite into troilite, and destroy carbonates. One finely comminuted lithology contains xenolithic materials (enstatite, Fe-Cr phosphides) suggesting impact of a reduced asteroid (E or M class) onto the main Sutter's Mill parent asteroid, which was probably a C class asteroid. One can use Sutter's Mill to help predict what will be found on the surfaces of C class asteroids such as Ceres and the target asteroids of the OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa 2 sample return missions (which will visit predominantly primitive asteroids). C class asteroid regolith may well contain a mixture of hydrated and thermally dehydrated indigenous materials as well as a significant admixture of exogenous material would be essential to the successful interpretation of mineralogical and bulk compositional data.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Space and Planetary Science