Volume 653, September 2021
|Number of page(s)||16|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||07 September 2021|
Limits on the contribution of early endogenous radiolysis to oxidation in carbonaceous chondrites’ parent bodies
Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, PIIM,
2 Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, CNES, LAM, Marseille, France
3 Space Science & Engineering Division, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX, USA
Accepted: 26 May 2021
Context. Carbonaceous chondrites have undergone alteration in their parent bodies and display oxidized secondary phases, including sulfates in CI and CM chondrites. The cause of the formation of these sulfates is yet to be determined.
Aims. This study investigates the potential of endogenous radiolysis of water (i.e., radiolysis caused by radionuclides present in the rock) on the parent bodies of carbonaceous chondrites. Radiolysis may have contributed to the enhanced degree of oxidation of CI and CM chondrites, and we also examined CV chondrites as a case with no measured sulfates.
Methods. We quantified the oxidants produced by radiolysis and how much of the sulfur content could be oxidized to form sulfates by this method. The amount of oxidants was calculated using a radiolytic production model developed and used for Earth and planetary applications that takes into account relevant physical parameters (water-to-rock ratio, grain density) and composition (amount of radionuclides, sulfur content).
Results. For CM and CI parent bodies, even using a very favorable set of assumptions, only slightly more than 1% of the available sulfur can be oxidized into sulfates by this process, significantly below the amount of sulfates observed in these chondrites.
Conclusions. Endogenous radiolysis is unlikely to have significantly contributed to the abundance of sulfate in CI and CM meteorites. The hypothesis of oxidation of sulfur by large quantities of O2 accreted with primitive ice, on the other hand, is quantitatively supported by measurements of O2 in comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
© A. Bouquet et al. 2021
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