The abundance and stability of “water” in type 1 and 2 carbonaceous chondrites (CI, CM and CR)

Garenne A, Beck P, Montes-Hernandez G, Chiriac R, Toche F, Quirico E, Bonal L and B. Schmitt B (in press)

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume 137, 15 July 2014, Pages


Carbonaceous chondrites record processes of aqueous alteration in the presence of hydrated and hydroxylated minerals, which could have provided a source of water in the inner solar system ( and ). In this study, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) was performed on 26 CM chondrites, which cover a range of degree of aqueous alteration from 2.0, such as Meteorite Hills (MET) 01070, to 2.6, such as Queen Alexandra Range (QUE) 97990, in order to quantify their water content. In addition, by measuring the release of volatile elements as a function of temperature, we obtained information on the mineralogy of water-bearing phases and provide indicators of aqueous alteration based on water released by phyllosilicates. These analyses are combined with infrared spectroscopy (IR) made on meteorite pellets heated up to 300 °C. The infrared features (–OH band at 3-μm and SiO4 around 10-μm) revealed a correlation with TGA. The two techniques are in agreement with the scheme of aqueous alteration proposed by Rubin et al. (2007) and Alexander et al. (2013) based on phyllosilicate abundance. The low temperature (200–400 °C) mass loss observed in TGA is attributed to Fe-oxy-hydroxydes (ferrihydrite, goethite). However, the proportion of these minerals formed by terrestrial alteration remains unknown. TGA also revealed two anomalous CM chondrites, Pecora Escarpment (PCA) 02012 and PCA 02010. Their TGA curves are significantly different from those of “regular” CMs with little mass loss, which can be related to the dehydration history of these meteorites in response to a heating event (Raman measurements also point toward a thermal event, Quirico et al., 2013). In the case of more mildly heated chondrites, such as with Wisconsin Range (WIS) 91600, the TGA curve presents similar mass loss to the other CMs. Seven bulk measurements of CR chondrites and 3 measurements of matrix-enriched parts of CR meteorites were also studied by TGA, and confirm the low hydration level of chondrules and a significant alteration of the matrix. The water content of the matrix of the CM 2.6 QUE 97990 was estimated and compared to TGA of the matrix enriched portion of the CR2 EET 92159 and that of Orgueil. Results suggest a similar aqueous alteration degree between Orgueil and the matrix of CMs (around 25 wt.%) and a lower alteration of the CR2 matrix (11 wt.% of H2O).