Petrographic, chemical and spectroscopic evidence for thermal metamorphism in carbonaceous chondrites I: CI and CM chondrites

Eric Tonui, Mike Zolensky, Takahiro Hiroi, Tomoki Nakamura, Michael E. Lipschutz, Ming Sheng Wang, Kyoko Okudaira

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97 Citations (Scopus)


We present a comprehensive description of petrologic, chemical and spectroscopic features of thermally metamorphosed CI-like and CM (and CM-like) chondrites. Only two such CI chondrites have so far been discovered i.e. Y-86029 and Y-82162. Thermal metamorphism in these chondrites is apparent in their low contents of H2O, C and the most thermally labile trace elements, partial dehydration of matrix phyllosilicates and abundance of thermally decomposed Ca-Mg-Fe-Mn carbonates, which apparently resulted from heating of Mg-Fe carbonate precursors.The CM chondrites exhibit a wide range of aqueous and thermal alteration characteristics. This alteration was almost complete in Y-86720 and Y-86789, which also escaped alternating episodes of oxidation and sulfidization experienced by the others. Thermal metamorphism in the CM chondrites is apparent in loss of thermally labile trace elements and also in partial to almost complete dehydration of matrix phyllosilicates: heating was less uniform in them than in CI chondrites. This dehydration is also evident in strength and shapes of integrated intensities of the 3. μm bands except in PCA 91008, which experienced extensive terrestrial weathering. Tochilinite is absent in all but Y-793321 probably due to heating. Textural evidence for thermal metamorphism is conspicuous in blurring or integration/fusion of chondrules with matrix in the more extensively heated (≥600. °C) CM chondrites like PCA 91008 and B-7904. TEM and XRD analyses reveal that phyllosilicate transformation to anhydrous phases proceeds via poorly crystalline, highly desiccated and disordered 'intermediate' phases in the least and moderately heated (400-600. °C) carbonaceous chondrites like WIS 91600, PCA 91008 and Y-86029. These findings are significant in that they confirm that these phases occur in meteorites as well as terrestrial samples.Thermal alteration in these meteorites can be used to identify other carbonaceous chondrites that were thermally metamorphosed in their parent bodies. Combining RNAA trace element data for experimentally heated Murchison CM2 samples with petrographic and spectroscopic data, these thermally metamorphosed carbonaceous chondrites can be ordered by severity of open system heating as 400 °C ≤ Y-793321 < WIS91600 = EET90043 = A881655 < PCA91008 < B-7904 = Y-86029 < Y-82162 < Y-86720 = Y-86789 ≥ 700 °C. Nearly all heated carbonaceous chondrites discovered so far have been found in Antarctica, which is known to have sampled the flux of near-Earth material for much longer than exemplified by current falls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-306
Number of pages23
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Feb 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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