CM carbonaceous chondrite falls and their terrestrial alteration

1Martin R. Lee,1,2,3Luke Daly,1Cameron Floyd,1Pierre‐Etienne Martin
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.13607]
1School of Geographical & Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ UK
2Space Science and Technology Centre, School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Curtin University, GPO BOC U1987, Perth, Western Australia, 6845 Australia
3Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, New South Wales, 2006 Australia
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

The CM carbonaceous chondrites provide unique insights into the composition of the protoplanetary disk, and the accretion and geological history of their parent C‐complex asteroid(s). Of the hundreds of CMs that are available for study, the majority are finds and so may have been compromised by terrestrial weathering. Nineteen falls have been recovered between 1838 and 2020, and there is a hint of two temporal clusters: 1930–1942 and 2009–2020. Falls are considered preferable to finds to study because they should be near pristine, and here this assumption is tested by investigating their susceptibility to alteration before recovery and during curation. CMs falling on the land surface are prone to contamination by organic compounds from soil and vegetation. Where exposed to liquid water prior to collection, minerals including oldhamite can be dissolved and most fluid mobile elements leached. Within days of recovery, CMs adsorb water from the atmosphere and are commonly contaminated by airborne hydrocarbons. Interaction with atmospheric water and oxygen during curation over year to decadal timescales can produce Fe‐oxyhydroxides from Fe,Ni metal and gypsum from indigenous gypsum and oldhamite. Relationships between the petrologic (sub)types of pre‐1970 falls and their terrestrial age could be due to extensive but cryptic alteration during curation, but are more likely a sampling bias. The terrestrial history of a CM fall, including circumstances of its collection and conditions of its curation, must be taken into account before it is used to infer processes on C‐complex parent bodies such as Ryugu and Bennu.

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