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Accretion of Water in Carbonaceous Chondrites: Current Evidence and Implications for the Delivery of Water to Early Earth

Abstract

Protoplanetary disks are dust-rich structures around young stars. The crystalline and amorphous materials contained within these disks are variably thermally processed and accreted to make bodies of a wide range of sizes and compositions, depending on the heliocentric distance of formation. The chondritic meteorites are fragments of relatively small and undifferentiated bodies, and the minerals that they contain carry chemical signatures providing information about the early environment available for planetesimal formation. A current hot topic of debate is the delivery of volatiles to terrestrial planets, understanding that they were built from planetesimals formed under far more reducing conditions than the primordial carbonaceous chondritic bodies. In this review, we describe significant evidence for the accretion of ices and hydrated minerals in the outer protoplanetary disk. In that distant region highly porous and fragile carbon and water-rich transitional asteroids formed, being the parent bodies of the carbonaceous chondrites (CCs). CCs are undifferentiated meteorites that never melted but experienced other physical processes including thermal and aqueous alteration. Recent evidence indicates that few of them have escaped significant alteration, retaining unique features that can be interpreted as evidence of wet accretion. Some examples of carbonaceous chondrite parent body aqueous alteration will be presented. Finally, atomistic interpretations of the first steps leading to water-mediated alteration during the accretion of CCs are provided and discussed. From these new insights into the water retained in CCs we can decipher the pathways of delivery of volatiles to the terrestrial planets.

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Acknowledgements

We thank two anonymous reviewers that improved significantly this manuscript. Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation under research projects AYA2015-67175-P and CTQ2017-89132-P are acknowledged, and we also thank the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council for funding through project ST/N000846/1. Mike Zolensky is acknowledged for kindly providing the Murchison and Renazzo pristine sections studied in this work. AR is indebted to “Ramón y Cajal” program. ST made this study in the frame of a PhD. on Physics at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). M. del Mar Abad is acknowledged by her interpretation of the data obtained of Murchison CM2 using the HR-TEM image (Fig. 4) obtained by JMTR at Centro de Instrumentación Científica (CIC), Universidad de Granada. US Antarctic meteorite samples are recovered by the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) program which has been funded by NSF and NASA, and characterized and curated by the Department of Mineral Sciences of the Smithsonian Institution and Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office at NASA Johnson Space Center. We thank these institutions for kindly providing the Antarctic meteorites studied here.

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Ices in the Solar System

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Trigo-Rodríguez, J.M., Rimola, A., Tanbakouei, S. et al. Accretion of Water in Carbonaceous Chondrites: Current Evidence and Implications for the Delivery of Water to Early Earth. Space Sci Rev 215, 18 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-019-0583-0

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Keywords

  • Comet
  • Asteroid
  • Meteoroid
  • Meteorite
  • Minor bodies
  • Primitive
  • Tensile strength