Aqueous fluid composition in CI chondritic materials: Chemical equilibrium assessments in closed systems

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Solids of nearly solar composition have interacted with aqueous fluids on carbonaceous asteroids, icy moons, and trans-neptunian objects. These processes altered mineralogy of accreted materials together with compositions of aqueous and gaseous phases. We evaluated chemistry of aqueous solutions coexisted with CI-type chondritic solids through calculations of chemical equilibria in closed water-rock-gas systems at different compositions of initial fluids, water/rock mass ratios (0.1-1000), temperatures (<350°C), and pressures (<2kbars). The calculations show that fluid compositions are mainly affected by solubilities of solids, the speciation of chlorine in initial water-rock mixtures, and the occurrence of Na-bearing secondary minerals such as saponite. The major species in modeled alkaline solutions are Na +, Cl -, CO32-,HCO3-, K +, OH -, H 2, and CO 2. Aqueous species of Mg, Fe, Ca, Mn, Al, Ni, Cr, S, and P are not abundant in these fluids owing to low solubility of corresponding solids. Typical NaCl type alkaline fluids coexist with saponite-bearing mineralogy that usually present in aqueously altered chondrites. A common occurrence of these fluids is consistent with the composition of grains emitted from Enceladus. Na-rich fluids with abundant CO32-,HCO3-, and OH - anions coexist with secondary mineralogy depleted in Na. The Na 2CO 3 and NaHCO 3 type fluids could form via accretion of cometary ices. NaOH type fluids form in reduced environments and may locally occur on parent bodies of CR carbonaceous chondrites. Supposed melting of accreted HCl-bearing ices leads to early acidic fluids enriched in Mg, Fe and other metals, consistent with signs of low-pH alteration in chondrites. Neutralization of these solutions leads to alkaline Na-rich fluids. Sulfate species have negligible concentrations in closed systems, which remain reduced, especially at elevated pressures created by forming H 2 gas. Hydrogen, CO 2, and H 2O dominate in the gaseous phase, though the abundance of methane cannot be fairly estimated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-729
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Asteroids, Composition
  • Meteorites
  • Mineralogy
  • Prebiotic environments
  • Satellites, Composition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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