Alteration and metamorphism of CO3 chondrites: evidence from oxygen and carbon isotopes

Greenwood, R. C. and Franchi, I. A. (2004). Alteration and metamorphism of CO3 chondrites: evidence from oxygen and carbon isotopes. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 39(11) pp. 1823–1838.



Carbonaceous chondrites of the Ornans-type (CO3) form a well-documented metamorphic series. To investigate the conditions under which metamorphism took place, whole rock oxygen and carbon isotope analysis has been carried out on 10 CO3 chondrites (ALH A77307 [3.0], Colony [3.0], Kainsaz* [3.1], Felix* [3.2], Ornans* [3.3], ALH 82101 [3.3], Lancé* [3.4], ALH A77003 [3.5], Warrenton* [3.6], and Isna [3.7] [*denotes a fall]). Whole rock oxygen isotope analysis was carried out by laser-assisted fluorination, whole rock carbon isotope analysis by continuous flow mass spectrometry. The results of this study indicate that the oxygen and carbon isotopes in CO3 finds have been significantly disturbed by terrestrial weathering processes. Conclusions based on the isotopic composition of such weathered finds may be significantly flawed. In particular, the Antarctic meteorite ALH A77307 (3.0), suggested as being close in composition to CO-CM chondrite precursor material, has experienced significant terrestrial contamination. Oxygen isotope data for CO3 falls indicates that there is a subtle increase in Δ17O values with increasing metamorphic grade for sub-types 3.1 to 3.4. This increase does not persist to higher sub-types, i.e., Warrenton (3.6). These relationships are explicable in terms of the progressive formation of phyllosilicates, coupled with loss of primary phases such as melilite, and suggest that an aqueous fluid phase was present during metamorphism. Carbon abundance and δ13C values of CO3 falls decrease with increasing metamorphic grade. These trends reflect progressive changes in the nature of the organic macromolecular component during metamorphic heating and lend additional support to the evidence that CO3 chondrites are part of a metamorphic series. The most likely setting for metamorphism was on the CO3 parent body. The "Ornans paradox," whereby Ornans (3.3) should belong to a higher sub-type based on chemical compared to petrographic evidence, may result from local-scale redox differences on the CO3 parent body. A wide variety of classification schemes have been proposed for CO3 chondrites. In view of its simplicity and applicability, the scheme of Scott and Jones (1990) is regarded as the most useful in assigning sub-types to new CO3 samples.

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