Journal article

Carbon isotopic variation in ureilites: Evidence for an early, volatile-rich Inner Solar System

We analyzed the C isotopic compositions of 32 unbrecciated ureilites, which represent mantle debris from a now disrupted, C-rich, differentiated body. The delta C-13 values of their C fractions range from -8.48 to +0.11%o. The correlations obtained between delta C-13, delta O-18 and Delta O-17 values and the compositions of the olivine cores, indicate that the ureilite parent body (UPB) accreted from two reservoirs displaying distinct O and C isotopic compositions. The range of Fe/Mg ratios shown by its mantle was not the result of melting processes involving reduction with C ("smelting"), but was chiefly inherited from the mixing of these two components. Because smelting reactions are pressure-dependent, this result has strong implications for the size of the UPB, and points to a large parent body, at least 690 km in diameter. It demonstrates that C-rich primitive matter distinct from that represented by carbonaceous chondrites was present in some areas of the early inner Solar System, and could have contributed to the growth of the terrestrial planets. We speculate that differentiated, C-rich bodies, or debris produced by their disruption, were an additional source of volatiles during the later accretion stages of the rocky planets, including Earth. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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