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Geochim Cosmochim Acta. 1996 Feb;60(3):489-507.

Carbonates in CI chondrites: clues to parent body evolution.

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Institut fur Planetologie, Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat Munster, Germany.


All CI chondrites are regolith breccias consisting of various types of chemically and mineralogically distinct mineral and lithic fragments (or units). In the CI chondrite Ivuna, for example, four different lithological units were identified and are referred to as lithology I, II, III, and IV. So far, lithologies III and IV have been identified in Orgueil as well. It appears that at least Ivuna and Orgueil consist of the same basic lithologies in different proportions. Carbonates in CIs occur as individual grains within such lithic units or exist as large fragments between them. Carbonate fragments are remnants of former carbonate veins and, in contrast to individual carbonate grains, are not genetically linked to lithological units. Four different types of carbonates (dolomite, breunnerite, calcite, siderite) occur in CIs and they constitute, on average, 5 vol% of each studied section. In this study, carbonates in the CI chondrites Orgueil, Ivuna, Alais, and Tonk were studied petrographically, mineralologically, and chemically. The results clearly indicate that, in contrast to most previous studies, compositional differences exist between dolomites within and among CI chondrites. From these differences it can be derived that (1) several episodes of alteration occurred on the CI parent body, (2) physicochemical conditions during carbonate formation must have been different among CIs, and (3) CI carbonates obviously were formed at low temperatures in equilibrium with surrounding fluid(s). While local compositional changes in fluid(s) on a micrometer to millimeter scale (as reflected by dolomite compositions within CI chondrites) were most likely controlled by the availability of Ca2+ Mg2+, Fe2+, and especially Mn2+ ions in the aqueous solutions, more widespread compositional changes on a meter (or even larger) scale were controlled by variable pH, Eh, CO2 partial pressure, and, especially, temperature conditions (as reflected by the compositional variability of dolomites among CIs).

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