Molecular distribution of monocarboxylic acids in Asuka carbonaceous chondrites from Antarctica

Hiroshi Naraoka, Akira Shimoyama, Kaoru Harada

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Molecular distribution of low-molecular-weight monocarboxylic acids was studied in three CM2 Asuka carbonaceous chondrites (A-881280, A-881334 and A-881458), which were recovered from Antarctica by the 29th Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition in 1988. GC and GC/MS analyses identified more than 30 monocarboxylic acids in A-881458, including aliphatic and aromatic acids with various structural isomers. Isomeric phenolic compounds were also identified. The aliphatic carboxylic acids have straight-chain structures having 2 to 12 carbon atoms (C2 to C12), and branched-chain structures (C4 to C9). The quantities of straight-chain acids decrease logarithmically with increasing carbon number. At the same carbon number, a straight-chain isomer is always predominant compared to branched-chain isomers. All of the 14 possible C4, C5 and C6 aliphatic monocarboxylic acids (not including optical isomers) have been identified, although all the isomers were not reported in Murchison and Y-791198 meteorites. Of the 17 possible isomeric C7 acids, at least 14 isomers were tentatively identified by mass spectra (EI and CI mode). At C8 or above, peaks of branched-chain isomers become obscure, probably due to the large number of isomers and small concentrations. Branched-chain monocarboxylic acids over C6 have never been reported in Murchison. Although occurrence of aliphatic acids are similar between A-881458 and Murchison at C4, C5 and C6 acids, a major difference is that A-881458 as well as Y-791198 have straight-chain predominance among isomers in contrast to Murchison being branched-chain predominant. In the case of isomeric aromatic compounds such as toluic acids and cresols, m-toluic acid and p-cresol are more abundant among their isomers, respectively. The molecular distribution may not reflect thermodynamic equilibrium but rather a kinetically controlled process for their formation mechanism. The other two CM2 chondrites (A-881280 and A-881334) were depleted in carboxylic acids in spite of similar carbon contents. The depletion is not due to weathering on ice, because the degrees of weathering are small and similar among the three chondrites. Probably those latter two chondrites may have been subjected to aqueous alteration or metamorphism on their meteorite parent bodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-201
Number of pages15
JournalOrigins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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