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 (ISBN-13: 9780521035392)


Meteorite research is fundamental to our understanding of the origin and early history of the Solar System. Some meteorites were produced by melting on asteroids, a few are from the Moon and others are Martian. Their study yields a chronology of the first 100 million years of Solar System history, and provides evidence that our Sun went through a highly radiative, T Tauri stage. This book considers the mechanism and timing of core formation and basaltic volcanism on asteroids, and the effects of heating water-rich bodies. Results from meteorite research are placed in a Galactic setting, and a theory is proposed for the origin of the planets of our Solar System. This advanced yet succinct introduction provides a classification of meteorites, and discusses their ages and origin. It will be valuable to graduate students and scientists in astrophysics, space research, cosmochemistry, geochemistry, isotope geology, and Earth and planetary sciences.

ROBERT HUTCHISON is a retired research scientist and curator of meteorites at the Natural History Museum, London. He gained his Ph.D. in igneous petrology from Glasgow University, and has held positions at Keele University, the Nigerian Geological Survey, and Leeds University. His main research interest is in the origin and early history of the Solar System, based on clues from ancient inclusions in chondrite meteorites. He has written or co-authored several previous books, including the Catalogue of Meteorites (4th edition, British Museum of Natural History, 1985), and Meteorites: The Key to our Existence (Natural History Museum, 1992). Hutchison has served on the committees of several learned societies and is a Fellow of the Meteoritical Society. In 2000 he was awarded a Gold Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society for his contribution to meteorite research, and in 2002, Asteroid 5308 Hutchison was named in his honor.

Cambridge Planetary Science

Series Editors: Fran Bagenal, David Jewitt, Carl Murray, Jim Bell, Ralph Lorenz, Francis Nimmo, Sara Russell

Books in the series

  1. Jupiter: The Planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere Edited by Bagenal, Dowling & McKinnon 0 521 81808 7

  2. Meteorites: A Petrologic, Chemical, and Isotopic Synthesis Hutchison 0 521 47010 2


A Petrologic, Chemical and Isotopic Synthesis

The Natural History Museum, London

The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom

The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge, CB2 2RU, UK
40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011–4211, USA
477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia
Ruiz de Alarcón 13, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Dock House, The Waterfront, Cape Town 8001, South Africa

© R. Hutchison 2004

This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2004

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

Typeface Times 11/14 pt.   System LATEX 2e   [TB]

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data

Hutchison, Robert, 1938–
Meteorites: a petrologic, chemical and isotopic synthesis / Robert Hutchison.
p.   cm. – (Cambridge planetary science series; 2)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0 521 47010 2
1. Meteorites.   I. Title.   II. Series.
QB755.H89 2004 523.5′1 – dc22   2003062625

ISBN 0 521 47010 2 hardback

I dedicate this book to Peter Harris, my mentor, and to Marie, my wife.
Peter had a profound influence on my career during the 26 months when I was his post-doc at Leeds University. He broadened my scientific outlook and set an example in innovative thought.

Marie has given me love and support for over 40 years. Her companionship has been invaluable in camping and climbing and on fieldwork in five continents. Long may it continue!


Preface page xi
Acknowledgements xiii
1   Introduction 1
    1.1   The flux of extraterrestrial material 1
    1.2   Kinds of meteoritic material 4
    1.3   Sources of meteorites 10
    1.4   Meteorite recovery: falls, finds and “super-finds” 11
    1.5   How to recognize a meteorite 13
    1.6   Meteorite names 15
    1.7   Meteorite literature 16
Select bibliography 17
2   The chondrites: chemistry and classification 18
    2.1   Historical overview 18
    2.2   Chondrite classes and groups: chemical signatures 24
    2.3   Cosmochemical classification of the elements 34
    2.4   Geochemical classification of the elements 37
    2.5   Primary variations: oxygen isotopic ratios 38
    2.6   Secondary variations: petrologic types 40
    2.7   Tertiary variations: shock facies and stages 42
    2.8   Terrestrial weathering of meteorite finds 45
    2.9   Classification: status and prospects 47
    2.10   Summary 51
Select bibliography 52
3   The components of chondrites 53
    3.1   Introduction 54
    3.2   Chondrules 55
    3.3   Refractory calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions – CAIs 75
    3.4   Other high-temperature materials in chondrites 84
    3.5   Low-temperature components in chondrites – matrix 85
    3.6   Other low-temperature material in chondrites 92
    3.7   Oxygen isotopic ratios of chondrules, CAIs and matrix 92
    3.8   Summary 95
Select bibliography 95
4   Petrography of the chondrites I: carbonaceous chondrites 96
    4.1   General introduction 96
    4.2   The carbonaceous chondrite groups 97
    4.3   Ungrouped carbonaceous chondrites 121
    4.4   Summary 123
Select bibliography 125
5   Petrography of the chondrites II: non-carbonaceous chondrites 127
    5.1   Introduction 127
    5.2   The ordinary chondrites and R group 128
    5.3   Enstatite chondrites 142
    5.4   Ungrouped non-carbonaceous chondrites 146
    5.5   Summary 150
Select bibliography 150
6   Time in the evolution of chondrites 152
    6.1   Introduction 153
    6.2   Stages in chondrite history 153
    6.3   Stages 7 to 10: Cosmic ray exposure (CRE) ages and terrestrial ages 154
    6.4   Systems based on primordial radionuclides 155
    6.5   Gas-retention ages (stages 5 to 7) 158
    6.6   Formation and metamorphic ages (stages 2 to 5) 162
    6.7   Early Solar System chronology 179
    6.8   Timing of nucleosynthesis: formation intervals 183
    6.9   Summary: early chondrite history 185
Select bibliography 187
7   Origin of chondrites and their components 188
    7.1   Introduction 189
    7.2   Origin of the chondrite groups 193
    7.3   Origin of chondrules 219
    7.4   Origin of calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) 229
    7.5   Summary 239
Select bibliography 241
8   Differentiated meteorites I: primitive achondrites, ureilites and aubrites 243
    8.1   Introduction 243
8.2 Achondrites 245
    8.3   Primitive achondrites 248
    8.4   Acapulcoites and lodranites 249
    8.5   Winonaites and chondritic silicates in IAB iron meteorites 253
    8.6   Brachinites (olivine achondrites) 256
    8.7   Ureilites (olivine-pyroxene achondrites) 257
    8.8   Aubrites (enstatite achondrites) 267
    8.9   Chemical compositions of primitive achondrites, ureilites and aubrites 273
    8.10   Summary 274
Select bibliography 275
9   Differentiated meteorites II: asteroidal, lunar and Martian basaltic meteorites 277
    9.1   Introduction 278
    9.2   Howardites, eucrites and diogenites (HEDs) 280
    9.3   Angrites: silica undersaturated Ca-rich basaltic achondrites 291
    9.4   Summary: products of asteroidal volcanism 295
    9.5   Lunar meteorites 296
    9.6   Martian (SNC) meteorites 305
Select bibliography 319
10   Differentiated meteorites III: iron and stony iron meteorites 321
    10.1   Introduction 322
    10.2   The Fe-Ni system and the structure of iron meteorites 324
    10.3   Chemical classification of iron meteorites 331
    10.4   Properties of the iron meteorite groups 338
    10.5   Stony iron meteorites 345
    10.6   Ungrouped iron and stony iron meteorites 355
    10.7   Summary 362
Select bibliography 363
11   Parent body processes and petrogenetic associations 364
    11.1   Introduction 365
    11.2   Early history of asteroids 366
    11.3   >The HED-IIIAB iron-MGP-mesosiderite association 378
    11.4   Metamorphism in chondrite parent bodies 399
    11.5   Petrogenetic associations 414
    11.6   Summary 418
Select bibliography 419
12   Origin of Solar System planets: a meteoriticist’s view 420
    12.1   Introduction 421
    12.2   Protosolar matter 422
    12.3   Trapped noble gases in chondrites 427
    12.4   Composition and form of protosolar matter 433
    12.5   Timing and evidence of early hypervelocity impact 434
    12.6   Possible origins of a protojupiter 438
    12.7   Consequences for the probability of life-supporting planets 441
    12.8   Summary 442
Select bibliography 442
Glossary 443
Bibliography 450
Index of meteorite names 478
General index 482


This book was inspired by Dodd (1981), Meteorites: A Petrologic-Chemical Synthesis. There have been many advances in meteoritics over the past two decades, driven by improvements in technology and by the discovery of unusual specimens among the thousands of new meteorite finds. Although much of the present format follows the earlier work, the additions to our knowledge and changes in our perception of what is important inevitably led to revision. This begins with the title. The insertion of the word “isotopic” indicates the growing importance of isotopic ratios in the classification, chronology and interpretation of meteorites.

   Meteorite research is multidisciplinary and one of my aims is to make this subject intelligible and enjoyable to professional scientists whose training lies in a variety of fields. To this end, a glossary is provided. But the level of the book should also render it useful to advanced undergraduates in Earth and planetary science, and to post-graduate students embarking on a career in meteoritics or allied subjects. From my past experience, enthusiastic amateur scientists and meteorite dealers or collectors will find the book useful for reference and for its outline of the broader implications of meteorite research. To satisfy such a wide readership the glossary, sections on cosmochemical and geochemical classification of the elements, and explanations of topics that may be unfamiliar to physicists, chemists or astronomers are included. Each chapter begins with an abstract and ends with a summary and list of significant references. Chapter 9 is exceptional in that a short summary is provided after each of the major sections on asteroidal, lunar and Martian achondrites. To present the student with up-to-date information on a subject, a recent reference or review commonly is quoted rather than an original work. For this I apologize to authors whose innovative papers have not been given the prominence that they otherwise deserve.

   The title clearly describes the focus of the book, which is the study of gram-sized or larger meteorites in the laboratory. The resulting data are then used to infer interrelationships, chronology and genesis of meteorites and their parent bodies. Eight of the chapters are largely descriptive. In these I tried to describe the properties of meteorites in the order that a student might employ in the investigation of a previously unknown rock. Interpretation is normally left until the end, which is true of the book as a whole. I have tried to be fair in presenting different views of contentious topics such as the origins of chondrules and planets, but my own predilections will be apparent to the discerning reader.

   I found it difficult to keep up with the rapidity and range of publications on meteorites, so the status of most topics is that of 2001 or 2002. It may be said that no major philosophical advance appears to have been made during the past 18 months.


For comments, criticism and encouragement I am grateful to Ed Olsen and Sara Russell. John Bridges, Ian Franchi, Monica Grady, Mike Lipschutz and Caroline Smith read and commented on various parts of the text. I acknowledge numerous authors whose published work I used; they are credited in captions to figures or tables. Photomicrographs were kindly supplied by John Ashworth, David Barber, Martin Lee, Tim McCoy, Keiji Misawa, Caroline Smith and Mike Zolensky. Bob Dodd contributed parts of Chapters 1 and 2, and the format of the book is loosely based on his 1981 work. I thank him for early discussion and continuing friendship. I thank my fellow meteoriticists and astronomers who unknowingly contributed to the content of the book through discussion and argument, with little or no acrimony.

   The biggest contribution came from Monica Grady, who made many of the line drawings, supplied photographs and arranged them for publication. Through discussion she improved the clarity of many figures. My warmest thanks go to her.

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