Resolution of impact-related microstructures in lunar zircon: A shock-deformation mechanism map

Nicholas E. Timms, Steven M. Reddy, David Healy, Alexander A. Nemchin, Marion L. Grange, Robert T. Pidgeon, Robert Hart

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83 Citations (Scopus)


The microstructures of lunar zircon grains from breccia samples 72215, 73215, 73235, and 76295 collected during the Apollo 17 mission have been characterized via optical microscopy, cathodoluminescence imaging, and electron backscatter diffraction mapping. These zircon grains preserve deformation microstructures that show a wide range in style and complexity. Planar deformation features (PDFs) are documented in lunar zircon for the first time, and occur along {001}, {110}, and {112}, typically with 0.125 mu m spacing. The widest PDFs associated with {112} contain microtwin lamellae with 65 degrees/< 110 > misorientation relationships. Deformation bands parallel to {100} planes and irregular low-angle (<10 degrees) boundaries most commonly have < 001 > misorientation axes. This geometry is consistent with a dislocation glide system with < 100 >{010} during dislocation creep. Nonplanar fractures, recrystallized domains with sharp, irregular interfaces, and localized annealing textures along fractures are also observed. No occurrences of reidite were detected. Shock-deformation microstructures in zircon are explained in terms of elastic anisotropy of zircon. PDFs form along a limited number of specific {hkl} planes that are perpendicular to directions of high Youngs modulus, suggesting that PDFs are likely to be planes of longitudinal lattice damage. Twinned {112} PDFs also contain directions of high shear modulus. A conceptual model is proposed for the development of different deformation microstructures during an impact event. This shock-deformation mechanism map is used to explain the relative timing, conditions, and complexity relationships between impact-related deformation microstructures in zircon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-141
Number of pages22
JournalMeteoritics & Planetary Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • high-pressure
  • U-PB
  • phase-transformations
  • metamorphosed zircons
  • isoptope systematics
  • plastic-deformation
  • wave metamorphism
  • Vredefort dome
  • South-Africa
  • ZRSIO4


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