Identification of a primordial high D/H component in the matrix of unequilibrated ordinary chondrites

Helen Grant, Romain Tartese, Rhian Jones, Laurette Piani, Yves Marrocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Deuterium to hydrogen isotope ratios in unequilibrated ordinary chondrites (UOCs) which have undergone little-to-no thermal metamorphism pose an interesting problem when looking at water in the early Solar System. Bulk chondrite studies have shown that UOCs of the lowest subtypes have D/H ratios as high as comets from the outer Solar System, which, along with bulk UOC water abundances, decrease with thermal metamorphism. Since bulk UOC analyses represent a complex mixture of organic and hydrated phases, it is not clear what phase(s) is responsible for the high bulk D/H values. In this study, we report in situ secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) measurements of the H isotope composition of the fine-grained matrix of UOCs with petrological subtypes ranging from 3.00 to 3.9. We find that for matrix areas in UOCs of petrologic subtype ≥ 3.2, correlations between D-rich organic material and D-poor phyllosilicates give relatively D-poor intrinsic water isotopic compositions, with δD values between -320 ± 91‰ and -71 ± 71‰, which are inherited from parent body accretion. Therefore, we conclude that OC parent bodies accreted D-poor water ice that had an H isotopic composition similar to that of CM and CV chondrite parent bodies. We find that matrix in UOCs of the lowest subtypes (Semarkona, Bishunpur, and Ngawi) show similar water and organic H isotope compositions to higher type UOCs. Our in situ analyses also show that matrix areas in these pristine UOCs contain a third, thus far unidentified, component that carries the high D/H signature, with δD values up to ~6000‰. We propose that this component is pristine amorphous silicates preserved from the molecular cloud or early protoplanetary disc that is extremely sensitive to thermal and aqueous alteration on asteroidal parent bodies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-70
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Early online date14 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jun 2024


  • Unequilibrated Ordinary Chondrites,
  • D/H Ratios
  • Matrix
  • Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry
  • Water
  • Amorphous Silicates


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