The NC-CC Isotope Dichotomy: Implications for the Chemical and Isotopic Evolution of the Early Solar System

Katherine R. Bermingham, Evelyn Füri, Katharina Lodders & Bernard Marty

Space Science Reviews, Volume 216, Article number: 133 (2020)


“Understanding the formation of our planetary system requires identification of the materials from which it originated and the accretion processes that produced the planets. The compositional evolution of the solar system can be constrained by synthesizing astronomical datasets and numerical models with elemental and isotopic compositions from objects that directly sampled the disk: meteorites and their constituents (chondrules, refractory inclusions, and matrix). This contribution reviews constraints on early solar system evolution provided by the so-called non-carbonaceous (NC) and carbonaceous chondrite (CC) groups and their relationship to the volatile element characteristics of chondritic meteorites. In previous work, the NC or CC character of a parent body was used to infer its accretion location in the protoplanetary disk. The NC groups purportedly originated in the inner disk, and the CC groups were derived from the outer disk, where the NC and CC regions of the disk may have been separated early on by proto-Jupiter, a pressure maximum, or a dust trap in the disk. The tenet that all CC parent bodies accreted in the outer disk is, in part, based on evidence that a handful of CC meteorites are enriched in volatile species compared to NC meteorites. Here, it is reviewed if and how the volatile element and nucleosynthetic isotope compositions of meteorites can be linked to accretion locations within the disk. The nucleosynthetic isotope compositions of whole rock meteorite samples contrast the trends found for their major volatile element compositions (i.e., C, N, and O). Although there may be an increase in volatile abundances when comparing some stony NC and CC meteorites and their inferred accretion locations within the disk, this is not necessarily a general rule. The difficulties with inferring parent body accretion locations are discussed. It is found that it cannot always be assumed that parent bodies which formed in the CC reservoir are “volatile-rich” relative to those that formed in the NC reservoir which are “volatile-poor”. Consequently, tracing the origin of terrestrial volatiles using the NC-CC isotope dichotomy remains challenging.”