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Theses Doctoral

Constraining the Chemical Environment and Processes in the Protoplanetary Disk: Perspective from Populations of Calcium- and Aluminum-rich Inclusions in Ornans-group and Metal-rich Chondrules in Renazzo-group Carbonaceous Chondrites

Crapster-Pregont, Ellen J.

Carbonaceous chondrites have an approximately solar bulk composition, with some exceptions (e.g. H), and exhibit a range of parent body alteration. Investigations of both pristine and altered chondrites yield valuable insight into the processes and conditions of the early Solar System prior to and resulting in the planets we observe today. Such insight and the dynamic models developed by astrophysicists are constrained by chemical, mineralogical, and textural characteristics of chondrite components (chondrules, refractory inclusions, metal, and matrix).
This dissertation uses a variety of chondritic components to address the following: 1) what do correlations within a population of refractory inclusions reveal about early Solar System conditions; 2) what is the distribution of trace elements among chondrite components and how does this affect component formation from precursor aggregation to chondrite accretion; and 3) can metal associated with chondrules further our understanding of chondrule formation and/or deformation?
The first two objectives were investigated using suite of carbonaceous Ornans-group (CO) chondrites of varying petrologic grades (Colony CO3.0, Kainsaz CO3.2, Felix CO3.3, Moss CO3.6, and Isna CO3.8). These chondrites were analyzed using several analytical techniques including: electron microprobe element mapping, a modal phase analysis algorithm, and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Within the comprehensive dataset of refractory inclusion characteristics (area, major mineralogy, bulk major chemistry, texture, and rare Earth element (REE) patterns and abundances) there is an overwhelming lack of correlations implying that thermal processing prior to accretion was stochastic and that sorting was minimal.
Only two CO chondrites were analyzed for REE abundances (Colony and Moss). While refractory inclusions exhibit the greatest enrichments in REE relative to CI, after modal recombination chondrule glass contributes most significantly to the bulk REE budget in both chondrites. The bulk mean REE patterns for both Colony and Moss are flat and approximately CI in abundance while the mean REE patterns for components are nearly flat with relative enrichments (~10x CI for both chondrule glass and refractory inclusions) or depletions (chondrule olivine) relative to CI. Lack of correlations between REE and other characteristics, nearly flat REE patterns and nearly equivalent enrichment factors relative to CI across chondrite groups, including the CO chondrites analyzed here, implies that REE were equilibrated in precursor material prior to chondrite component formation. We propose a scenario for the equilibration of REE with vapor-solid or solid-solid reactions with subsequent accretion of chondrite components.
Metal-rich chondrules in Acfer 139, a carbonaceous Renazzo-group (CR) chondrite were used to address the final objective. Chemical information was obtained using electron microprobe quantitative analysis and element mapping, electron backscatter diffraction was used to analyze the crystal structure of the metal nodules, and computed tomography provided insight into the 3D relationships of the metal. Eight chondrules with abundant metal nodules, both as rims and within the chondrule interior, were analyzed in detail. Chondrule A is of particular interest as it contains three concentric metal layers. A majority of the metal nodules fall on the calculated condensation trajectory of Co/Ni in a vapor of solar composition with the interior metal nodules containing higher Ni wt% and Co wt% than the rim nodules. Twinning is evident in many of the metal nodules and could indicate a ubiquitous parent body deformation process. Chemical inhomogeneity of Ni only occurs within the metal nodules of chondrule A and implies these metal nodules were reheated to high temperatures. The combination of chemical inhomogeneity, multiple sets of twins, and other evidence of strain imply that the formation of these chondrules was not straightforward and involved multiple iterations of heating, and potentially addition of material. A plausible model of chondrule formation in the early Solar System must be able to account for this more complicated thermal and alteration history and produce the chemical and textural variety of chondrules present in the region of chondrite accretion.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Ebel, Denton S
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 23, 2017