Large Carbonaceous Chondrite Parent Bodies Favored by Abundance–Volatility Modeling: A Possible Chemical Signature of Pebble AccretionOPEN ACCESS 

Jeremy W. Boyce, Francis M. McCubbin, Nicole Lunning and Tyler Anderson

The Planetary Science Journal, Volume 5, Number 2


“Primitive meteorite groups such as the Vigarano, Mighei, and Karoonda carbonaceous chondrites have enigmatic patterns of elemental abundances, with moderately volatile elements—those that transition from vapor to condensate between ∼400 and ∼900 K—defining plateaus of subequal abundances despite a wide range in volatility. In detail, each group defines a plateau with distinctive nonmonotonic “chemical fingerprints” that have been attributed to combinations of mixing, vaporization/condensation, and fluid-mediated metasomatism—but the extent to which these processes can reproduce the observed variability has not been quantified. Starting with primitive Ivuna chondrite, a two-stage, two-component equilibrium condensation–vaporization model—with gravity implemented as Jeans escape—can explain large-scale plateaus in these chondrite groups, as well as more complex, nonmonotonic small-scale variations. For all three chondritic meteorite groups, models favor earlier high-temperature fractionation under low-gravity conditions followed by a low-temperature fractionation event that took place on a protoplanet at least as large as Ceres. The second fractionation event may represent the fractionation of incoming materials to the planetesimal during protracted pebble accretion. Models with only thermally driven volatile loss, gravity, and mixing can explain more than 80% of the observed compositional variability in these meteorite groups. In our five-parameter model, using only five randomly selected elements yields uselessly large ranges of planet sizes and temperatures, ranges that converge with increasing numbers of elements. These results suggest that even simple models are prone to generating inaccurate conclusions when constrained by too few observations, a fault likely held by more complex models as well.”