Stable isotope analysis of carbon and nitrogen in angrites

Abernethy, F. A. J.; Verchovsky, A. B.; Starkey, N. A.; Anand, M.; Franchi, I. A. and Grady, M. M. (2013). Stable isotope analysis of carbon and nitrogen in angrites. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 48(9) pp. 1590–1606.



Angrites are a small group of ancient basaltic achondrites, notable for their unusual chemistry and extreme volatile depletion. No comprehensive study of indigenous light elements currently exists for the group. Measurement of the abundances and isotopic composition of carbon and nitrogen could provide information pertaining to the evolution of the angrite parent body. Bulk-sample stepped combustion analyses of five angrites and a glass separate from D'Orbigny were combined with earlier data and acid dissolution experiments of carbonates found in D'Orbigny to compile an inventory of indigenous carbon and nitrogen. Indigenous carbon combusted between 700 °C and 1200 °C, with abundances of 10–140 ppm and a mass-weighted δ13C of −25 to −20‰ with the exception of D'Orbigny (δ13C approximately −5‰). Nitrogen was released at 850–1200 ºC, 1–20 ppm with a δ15N −3‰ to +4‰; again, D'Orbigny (δ15N approximately +20 to +25‰) was an exception. We interpret these components as largely indigenous and decoupled; the carbon in graphitic or amorphous form, while the nitrogen is present as a dissolved component in the silicates. No relationship with the textural sub-classification of angrites is apparent. We suggest that the angrite parent body contains a reservoir of reduced carbon and thus may have undergone a change in redox conditions, although the timing and mechanism for this remain unclear.

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