Calcium-aluminum-rich inclusion found in the Ivuna CI chondrite: Are CI chondrites a good proxy for the bulk composition of the solar system?

David R. Frank, Gary R. Huss, Michael E. Zolensky, Kazuhide Nagashima, Loan Le

MAPS, Version of Record online: 04 October 2023


“Cosmochemists have relied on CI carbonaceous chondrites as proxies for chemical composition of the non-volatile elements in the solar system because these meteorites are fine-grained, chemically homogeneous, and have well-determined bulk compositions that agree with that of the solar photosphere, within uncertainties. Here we report the discovery of a calcium-aluminum-rich inclusion (CAI) in the Ivuna CI chondrite. CAIs are chemically highly fractionated compared to CI composition, consisting of refractory elements and having textures that either reflect condensation from nebular gas or melting in a nebular environment. The CAI we found is a compact type A CAI with typical 16O-rich oxygen. However, it shows no evidence of 26Al, which was present when most CAIs formed. Finding a CAI in a CI chondrite raises serious questions about whether CI chondrites are a reliable proxy for the bulk composition of the solar system. Too much CAI material would show up as mismatches between the CI composition and the composition of the solar photosphere. Although small amounts of refractory material have previously been identified in CI chondrites, this material is not abundant enough to significantly perturb the bulk compositions of CI chondrites. The agreement between the composition of the solar photosphere and CI chondrites allows no more than ~0.5 atom% of CAI-like material to have been added to CI chondrites. As the compositions of CI chondrites, carbonaceous asteroids, and the solar photosphere are better determined, we will be able to reduce the uncertainties in our estimates of the composition of the solar system.”