Black Beauty’. A new type of Martian meteorite

Black beauty meteorite

An online report published yesterday (Science, January 3rd, 2012), describes the petrologic and geochemical characteristics of the (NWA) 7034 meteorite, found in Northwest Africa in 2011.

Although the 320g meteorite shares some characteristics with known Martian meteorite groups (SNC, i.e., Shergottite, Nakhlite and Chassignite), ‘Black Beauty’ has an order of magnitude more indigenous water than the SNC meteorites. Dated at around 2 Billion years old, this meteorite is also considerably older than the SNC group, with age ranges between 200-400 million years.

Described as a “water-rich basaltic breccia’, (NWA) 7034 is a geochemically enriched crustal rock, similar to basalts and average Martian surface rocks encountered by recent orbiter and rover missions. Geochemical analysis shows that the breccia formed during a volcanic eruption on Mars’ surface. The lava appears to have reacted with a nearby water source- possibly Martian permafrost or ancient liquid water. SNC meteorites are believed to have originated much deeper in the Martian crust. 
Further information on this story may be found here.