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New Mars Meteorite Found In Morocco (NWA 856)


Northwest Africa 856 (NWA 856)

NWA 856
Photo © Bruno Fectay & Carine Bidaut
JPEG (39K)

Pieces of a Mars meteorite stone (shergottite) weighing 320 grams.
NWA 856
Photo © Bruno Fectay & Carine Bidaut
JPEG (160K)

A section cut out of the main mass showing the interior.

                 Announcement 86-1, April 5, 2002
               Sara Russell, Editor (
          Jutta Zipfel, Assoc. Ed. for Saharan Meteorites 
    Jeffrey N. Grossman, Assoc. Ed. for Web (
                 Monica M. Grady, Co-Editor 

Northwest Africa 856
  unknown location
  Found 2001 March
  Martian meteorite (basaltic shergottite)
A single stone of 320 g was found in Morocco in March 2001. The exact 
location of find is unknown and the meteorite was referred to  under 
the pseudonym "Djel Ibone". The meteorite has a fine-grained basaltic 
texture consisting mainly of pyroxene (70 vol%) and  maskelynite (23 
vol%). Accessory minerals include merrillite, apatite, pyrrhotite, 
chromite, Fe-Ti oxides, silica (stishovite) and  baddeleyite. Melt 
pockets with phenocrysts and submicron-sized needles of stishovite 
are present. Pyroxenes are highly fractured.  Calcite veins formed by 
terrestrial weathering cross-cut the specimens. Classification and 
mineralogy (A. Jambon, UPVI, V. Sautter,  MNHNP, Ph. Gillet, ENSL): 
pyroxenes are pigeonite, En48Fs39Wo13, and augite, En36Fs32Wo32; 
maskelynite composition is An41-47Ab57-51Or2.  Geochemistry (J.-A. 
Barrat, UAng and Ch. Gvpel, IPGP): bulk composition in wt% is 0.81 
TiO2, 6.83 Al2O3, 17.8 FeO*, 0.49 MnO, 9.51 MgO,  10.2 CaO, 1.28 
Na2O, 0.13 K2O. Trace elements 77 ppm Ni and a REE pattern similar to 
that of Shergotty and Zagami. Key element  weight-ratios are FeO*/MnO 
~30, Na/Al ~0.40, K/La of 500 and Ga/Al of 4.1x10-4. Abundances of Ba 
and Sr and the Th/U ratio indicate that  terrestrial weathering is 
minor. Specimens: type specimen, 16 g, ENSL; main mass, Fectay.

October 8, 2001

At the 64th Annual Meteoritical Society Meeting held in the Vatican City last month, the announcement of a new Mars meteorite was made. The new meteorite has just been recently given the official name of NWA 856. NWA 856 was found in the Sahara desert in Morocco in March 2001. It has been identified as a shergottite by French scientists and weighs 320 grams. This new meteorite increases the Mars meteorite count to 19. Attached below is the abstract on the meteorite from the Meteoritical Society Meeting. The meteorite is referred to with a temporary name of "Djel Ibon" in the abstract.

Ron Baalke


64th Annual Meteoritical Society Meeting (September 2001)

A. Jambon[1], J-A. Barrat[2], P. Gillet[3], C. Gpel[4], M. Javoy[5], J-L. Joron[6], V. Sautter[7].

[1] Laboratoire MAGIE UMR 7057 Universit P. et M. Curie 4 place Jussieu 75252 Paris (
[2] CNRS UMR6112 and Universit d'Angers, France
[3] Laboratoire des Sciences de la Terre, Ecole Normale suprieure de Lyon, France
[4] Laboratoire de Gochimie et Cosmochimie, Institut de Physique du Globe, Paris, France
[5] Laboratoire de Gochimie des Isotopes Stables, Institut de Physique du Globe Paris, France
[6] Laboratoire Pierre Se, CEA-CNRS, Saclay, France
[7] Laboratoire de Minralogie, Musum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France.

Introduction: We report on the discovery of a new shergottite from Morocco. This single stone weighing 320 g is not officially named yet. The location of its find is unknown but we used "Djel Ibone" as a working name. It is a fine-grained basaltic rock consisting mainly of pyroxenes (about 70 vol%, pigeonite En48Wo13 Fs39, augite En36 Wo32 Fs32 ) and plagioclase converted to maskelynite (about 23 vol%, Ab41-47 Or2 An57-51). Accessory minerals include merrilite, apatite, pyrrhotite, chromite, Fe-Ti oxides, silica (stishovite), and baddeleyite. Melt pockets were recognized with stishovite occuring as both phenocrysts and submicrometric needles. The specimen is highly fractured at all scales: pyroxene cores are cut by large and medium sized fractures whereas their rims are affected by numerous small fractures. A circular fracture often delineates the Mg rich core. Maskelynite is only affected by a few major fractures. Terrestrial calcite is present mainly as veins cross-cutting the meteorite, as in many other Saharan finds.

Chemistry: The bulk composition of "Djel Ibone" has been determined using a combination of three analytical techniques: ICP-AES for major elements, ICP-MS for trace elements and INAA for additional trace elements. About 50 elements were determined with an accuracy better than 5 % in most cases. The bulk composition of "Djel Ibone" is for selected elements : TiO2 0.81 wt%, Al2O3 6.83 wt%, FeO* 17.8 wt%, MnO 0.49 wt%, MgO 9.51 wt%, CaO 10.2 wt%, Na2O 1.28 wt%, K2O 0.13 wt%, Ni 77 ppm, La 2.16 ppm, Sm 3.88 ppm, Eu 1.5 ppm, Gd 0.58 ppm, Yb 1.64 ppm, Th 0.4 ppm. The REE pattern is similar to that of Shergotty or Zagami. "Djel Ibone" is only marginaly weathered as illustrated by the U, Ba and Sr abundances which are sensitive indicators of surface processes [1]: It displays a normal Th/U ratio and its Ba and Sr abundances are not outside the trend defined by other unweathered shergottites. Therefore, key element ratios such as FeO*/MnO (w 30), Na/Al (w 0.40), K/La (= 500) or Ga/Al (= 4.1 10-4) indicate that "Djel Ibone" is a new member of the martian meteorite clan[2].

Oxygen isotopes: "Djel Ibone" has a O18 of +5.03 . and a O17 of +3.09 .. The corresponding O17 (=+0.47 .) is a little high but in agreement with the martian origin of this meteorite[3].


[1] BarratJ-A. et al. (2001) Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 35, 95-106.
[2] Meyer C. (1998) Mars Meteorite.Compendium 1998, Nasa, Houston.
[3] Clayton and Mayeda. (1996) Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 60, 1999-2017.

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