Isotopic characterisation of kerogen-like material in the Murchison carbonaceous chondrite

Geochim Cosmochim Acta. 1987;51:2527-40. doi: 10.1016/0016-7037(87)90303-6.


Isotopic data for C, H and N in acid-resistant residues from carbonaceous chondrites show substantial variability during stepwise pyrolysis and/or combustion. After subtraction of contributions due apparently to inorganic C grains, of probably circumstellar origin, considerable isotopic variability remains, attributable to the kerogen-like organic fraction. That variability may be interpreted in terms of three or four distinct components, based on C, H and N isotopes. The relative proportions of those components vary significantly from sample to sample. The different isotopic components are tentatively identified in terms of specific chemical/structural moieties within the kerogen-like material. This combination of chemical, structural and isotopic information suggests a complex for meteoritic organic matter. At least three components within the organic populations as a whole still carry a signature of apparently interstellar D-enrichment. Part, at least, of the interstellar carrier consisted of reactive entities, not solely polymers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Carbon / analysis*
  • Carbon / chemistry
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Deuterium
  • Evolution, Chemical
  • Geological Phenomena
  • Geology*
  • Hydrogen / analysis
  • Hydrogen / chemistry
  • Isotopes
  • Meteoroids*
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Nitrogen / chemistry
  • Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Origin of Life
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / chemistry*
  • Tritium


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Isotopes
  • Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Tritium
  • Carbon
  • Hydrogen
  • Deuterium
  • Nitrogen