Origin of insoluble organic matter in type 1 and 2 chondrites: new clues, new questions

Quirico et al.

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume 136, 1 July 2014, Pages 80–99


Insoluble organic matter (IOM) extracted from primitive chondrites is a polyaromatic solid with a structure and composition resembling that of terrestrial kerogens. A survey of its composition and structure has been carried out on a series of 27 CR, CM, CI and ungrouped C2 carbonaceous chondrites (Tagish Lake, Bells, Essebi, Acfer 094) using infrared and multi-wavelength Raman micro-spectroscopy (244, 514 and 785 nm laser excitations). The results show that chondritic IOM from PCA 91008 (CM2), WIS 91600 (CM2), QUE 93005 (CM2), Tagish Lake (C2 ungrouped) and possibly Cold Bokkeveld (CM2) has been subjected to the past action of short duration thermal metamorphism, presumably triggered by impacts. The IOM in most of the CM chondrites that experienced moderate to heavy aqueous alteration may have been slightly modified by collision-induced heating. However, even IOM from chondrites that escaped significant thermal metamorphism displays Raman characteristics consistent with a formation by thermal processing, either in the protosolar disk or in the parent body. An alternative energetic process to thermal heating is ion irradiation. After thoroughly analyzing both these scenarii, no conclusion can be drawn as to which is the most plausible mechanism nor whether the heating process took place prior or after accretion. The results show for the first time that the width of the G band in spectra collected with a 514 nm excitation correlates with the O/C atomic ratio, suggesting a major role of oxygen in the cross-linking of polyaromatic units.