Molecular and isotopic indicators of alteration in CR chondrites

Pearson, Victoria K.; Sephton, M. and Gilmour, Iain (2006). Molecular and isotopic indicators of alteration in CR chondrites. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 41(9) pp. 1291–1303.




The CR group of carbonaceous chondrites may represent some of the most primitive extraterrestrial materials available for analysis. However, in contrast to other chondrite groups, the CR organic fraction is poorly characterized. The carbonaceous chondrite literature shows that relatively anhydrous thermal processing results in a condensed, poorly alkylated, O-poor macromolecular material, while for aqueous processing the converse is true. Such characteristics can be used to discern the alteration histories of the carbonaceous chondrites. We have performed bulk elemental and isotopic analysis and flash pyrolysis on four CR chondrites (Renazzo, Al Rais, Elephant Moraine [EET] 87770, and Yamato [Y-] 790112) to determine the nature of their organic component.

Renazzo, Al Rais, and Y-790112 release qualitatively similar pyrolysis products, although there are some variations. Al Rais' macromolecular structure contains substantially higher relative abundances of alkylated and oxidized species and relatively lighter δ15N, suggesting that it has endured more extensive aqueous processing than the other CR chondrites. Renazzo appears relatively unprocessed, with a low degree of alkylation, a lack of detectable nitrogen-bearing components, and low methylnaphthalene ratio. EET 87770's low abundance of alkylated species suggests its macromolecular structure may be relatively condensed, with condensation potentially assisted by a period of mild thermal alteration.

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