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The secondary history of Sutter's Mill CM carbonaceous chondrite based on water abundance and the structure of its organic matter from two clasts

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Abstract

Sutter's Mill is a regolith breccia composed of both heavily altered clasts and more reduced xenoliths. Here, we present a detailed investigation of fragments of SM18 and SM51. We have characterized the water content and the mineralogy by infrared (IR) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and the structure of the organic compounds by Raman spectroscopy, to characterize the secondary history of the clasts, including aqueous alteration and thermal metamorphism. The three methods used in this study suggest that SM18 was significantly heated. The amount of water contained in phyllosilicates derived by TGA is estimated to be approximately 3.2 wt%. This value is quite low compared with other CM chondrites that typically range from 6 to 12 wt%. The infrared transmission spectra of SM18 show that the mineralogy of the sample is dominated by a mixture of phyllosilicate and olivine. SM18 shows an intense peak at 11.2 μm indicative of olivine (Fig. 1). If we compare SM18 with other CM and metamorphosed CM chondrites, it shows one of the most intense olivine signatures, and therefore a lower proportion of phyllosilicate minerals. The Raman results tend to support a short-duration heating hypothesis. In the ID/IG versus FWHM-D diagram, SM18 appears to be unusual compared to most CM samples, and close to the metamorphosed CM chondrites Pecora Escarpment (PCA) 91008 and PCA 02012. In the case of SM51, infrared spectroscopy reveals that olivine is less abundant than in SM18 and the 10 μm silicate feature is more similar to that of moderately altered CM chondrites (like Murchison or Queen Alexandra Range [QUE] 97990). Raman spectroscopy does not clearly point to a heating event for SM51 in the ID/IG versus FWHM-D diagram. However, TGA analysis suggests that SM51 was slightly dehydrated as the amount of water contained in phyllosilicates is approximately 3.7 wt%, which is higher than SM18, but still lower than phyllosilicate water contents in weakly altered CM chondrites. Altogether, these results confirm that fragments with different secondary histories are present within the Sutter's Mill fall. The dehydration that is clearly observed for SM18 is attributed to a short-duration heating based on the similarity of its Raman spectra to that of PCA 91008. Because of the brecciated nature of Sutter's Mill and the presence of adjacent clasts with different thermal histories, impacts that can efficiently fragment and heat porous materials are the preferred heat source.

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