Hydrogen isotopic composition of water from fossil micrometeorites in howardites

Gounelle, Matthieu; Engrand, Cécile; Alard, Olivier; Bland, Philip A.; Zolensky, Michael E.; Russell, Sara S. and Duprat, Jean (2005). Hydrogen isotopic composition of water from fossil micrometeorites in howardites. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 69(13) pp. 3431–3443.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2004.12.021


We have measured the hydrogen isotopic composition (D/H ratios) of the water from 13 carbonaceous chondritic microclasts (CCMs, size <1 mm) trapped in two howardites (Kapoeta and Yamato-793497) early in the evolution of Solar System. The division into tochilinite-rich; magnetite-rich, olivine-poor; magnetite-rich, olivine-rich CCM types is corroborated by the hydrogen isotopic compositions. Both mineralogy and hydrogen isotopic compositions demonstrate that tochilinite-rich CCMs represent CM2 chondritic matter. In contrast, there is no good match between the isotopic and mineralogical properties of the magnetite-rich CCMs and the known groups of carbonaceous chondrites, suggesting that magnetite-rich CCMs represent a new kind of chondritic matter, not yet sampled in meteorite collections. This demonstrates that the view of the asteroid belt revealed by the collection of meteorites is incomplete. The study of (micro)clasts offers a unique opportunity to better decipher the nature and relative abundance of asteroids. The average hydrogen isotopic composition of water belonging to CCMs, D/H = (152.0 +/- 4.8) X 10(-6) (1 sigma(m)), is similar to that of Antarctic micrometeorites (AMMs), D/H = (161.2 +/- 3.8) X 10(-6) (1 sigma(m)). The similarity, in terms of mineralogy and hydrogen isotopic composition, between CCMs and AMMs demonstrates that the composition of the micrometeorites has not been modified over the whole history of the Solar System. It indicates that the composition of the micrometeorite flux onto Earth has been, and is, dominated by a mixture of CM2-like; magnetite-rich, olivine-poor; magnetite-rich, olivine-rich carbonaceous chondritic matter exemplified by CCMs found in howardites. Because CCMs have not suffered atmospheric entry, they provide an abundant source of pristine micrometeorites. The average D/H ratio of the whole population of CCMs is identical within errors to that of the Earth (149 +/- 3 X 10(-6)). The match between the CCMs D/H ratio and that of the Earth is especially remarkable because 1) three different populations of CCMs are needed to make the D/H ratio of the Earth; 2) there is no single carbonaceous chondrite group for which a similar match exists. This observation suggests that CCMs population might be representative of the late veneer agent(s) that delivered water to the Earth.

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