Petrographic and C & O isotopic characteristics of the earliest stages of aqueous alteration of CM chondrites

Lionel G. Vacher, Yves Marrocchi, Johan Villeneuve, Maximilien J. Verdier-Paoletti, Matthieu Gounelle

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 12 July 2017


“CM chondrites form the largest group of hydrated meteorites and span a wide range of alteration states, with the Paris meteorite being the least altered CM described to date. Ca-Carbonates are powerful proxies for the alteration conditions of CMs because they are direct snapshots of the chemical and isotopic compositions of the parent fluids. Here, we report a petrographic and a C isotope and O isotope survey of Ca-carbonates in Paris in order to better characterize the earliest stages of aqueous alteration. Petrographic observations show that Paris contains two distinct populations of Ca-carbonates: Type 1a Ca-carbonates, which are surrounded by rims of tochilinite/cronstedtite intergrowths (TCIs), and new Type 0 Ca-carbonates, which do not exhibit the TCI rims. The TCI rims of Type 1a Ca-carbonates commonly outline euhedral crystal faces, demonstrating that these Ca-carbonates were (i) partially or totally pseudomorphosed by TCI and (ii) precipitated at the earliest stages of aqueous alteration, before Type 0 Ca-carbonates. Isotopic measurements show that Paris’ Ca-carbonates have δ13C values that range from 19 to 80 ‰ (PDB), δ18O values that range from 29 to 41 %, and δ17O values that range from 13 to 24 ‰ (SMOW). According to the δ13C-δ18O values of Paris’ Ca-carbonates, we developed a new alteration model that involves (i) the equilibration of a primordial 17,18O-rich water (PW) with 16O-rich anhydrous silicates and (ii) varying contribution of 12C- and 13C-rich soluble organic matter (SOMs). It also suggests that many parameters control the C and O isotopic composition of Ca-carbonates, the principles being the degree of isotopic equilibration between the PW and the anhydrous silicates, the respective contribution of 12C and 13C-rich SOMs as well as the thermal evolution of CM parent bodies. Consequently, we suggest that CM Ca-carbonates could record both positive and negative δ13C-δ18O relationships, but a systematic correspondence is probably absent in CM chondrites due to the large number of factors involved in generating the isotopic characteristics of Ca-carbonates. From recent reports of the C-isotopic compositions of SOM in CM chondrites, we propose that water-soluble organic compounds were the most probable source of 13C enrichment in the majority of CM carbonates.”