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A dual origin for water in carbonaceous asteroids revealed by CM chondrites

Nature Astronomyvolume 2pages317323 (2018) | Download Citation


Carbonaceous asteroids represent the principal source of water in the inner Solar System and might correspond to the main contributors for the delivery of water to Earth. Hydrogen isotopes in water-bearing primitive meteorites, for example carbonaceous chondrites, constitute a unique tool for deciphering the sources of water reservoirs at the time of asteroid formation. However, fine-scale isotopic measurements are required to unravel the effects of parent-body processes on the pre-accretion isotopic distributions. Here, we report in situ micrometre-scale analyses of hydrogen isotopes in six CM-type carbonaceous chondrites, revealing a dominant deuterium-poor water component (δD = −350 ± 40‰) mixed with deuterium-rich organic matter. We suggest that this deuterium-poor water corresponds to a ubiquitous water reservoir in the inner protoplanetary disk. A deuterium-rich water signature has been preserved in the least altered part of the Paris chondrite (δDParis ≥ −69 ± 163‰) in hydrated phases possibly present in the CM rock before alteration. The presence of the deuterium-enriched water signature in Paris might indicate that transfers of ice from the outer to the inner Solar System were significant within the first million years of the history of the Solar System.

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The authors are grateful to the French National Museum of Natural History (Paris) and B. Zanda for providing the pieces of the Paris chondrite, to F. Robert for providing the samples of Murchison, Murray and Mighei, to the Japanese Museum of Natural History and S. Yoneda for providing the Sayama sample, and to V. Vinogradoff for providing some of the insoluble organic matter isolated from Paris. H. Naraoka from the Planetary Trace Organic Compounds research center is thanked for the measurement of the whole-rock H2O content and D/H ratio of Sayama. F. Baudin from the French Institut des Sciences de la Terre (ISTeP, UPMCUniversité Paris 06) is thanked for the measurement of the bulk carbon content of Paris. N. Kawasaki, Y. Marrocchi, B. Marty, N. Sakamoto, I. Sugawara, S. Tachibana and A. Williams are warmly thanked for fruitful discussions and for providing assistance that allowed this work to be completed. This work was supported by the grant-in-aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas “Evolution of molecules in space from interstellar clouds to proto-planetary nebulae” supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology, Japan (grant number 50754595, L.P.). This is CRPG contribution #2562.

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    • Laurette Piani

    Present address: CPRG, UMR 7358 CNRS, Université de Lorraine, Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France


  1. Department of Natural History Sciences, Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

    • Laurette Piani
    •  & Hisayoshi Yurimoto
  2. Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Université, UMR CNRS 7590, IRD, Institut de Minéralogie, de Physique des Matériaux et de Cosmochimie, IMPMC, Paris, France

    • Laurent Remusat


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L.P. designed the study, analysed the samples and wrote the paper. L.R. and H.Y. were involved in the study design and interpretation of the data and also provided input to the manuscript.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Laurette Piani.

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