2020 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Examining the Role of Aqueous Alteration on the Organic Composition of Carbonaceous Meteorites

Rebekah L. Rozowski, Boise State University
Patrick K. Schwartz, Boise State University
Michael P. Callahan, Boise State University


Aqueous alteration may have been the most widespread process that affected primitive solar system materials; however, its effect on soluble organic matter in small asteroidal bodies is still poorly understood. We investigated the soluble organic composition in a set of progressively aqueously altered CM chondrite meteorites by ultrahigh-resolution orbitrap mass spectrometry. Kendrick mass defect (KMD) plots were used to identify families of homologous organic compounds and their distribution and relative abundance were compared to evaluate the effect of aqueous alteration (and, in some cases, the effect of additional thermal alteration). Our preliminary results suggest that higher degrees of aqueous alteration resulted in greater molecular diversity including high-molecular weight organic compounds.