Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Harry Y. McSween Jr., Joshua P. Emery

Committee Members

Jeffery E. Moersch, Michael W. Guidry


CM (Mighei-like) and CI (Ivuna-like) carbonaceous chondrites are primitive meteorites that consist of some of the most pristine matter known in the Solar System. They are thought to be genetically related to outer Main Belt asteroids (C-, D-, G-, F-, T-, and B-types) that span the 2.5 < a < 4.0 AU region. They are also thought to be the source that might have delivered water and organics to terrestrial planets during their accretion. The goal of this dissertation is to develop reliable 3-µm [micron] spectral indicators that can place constraints on the degree and location of aqueous alteration in the outer Main Belt region, and on the nature of phyllosilicate mineralogy on the surface of these asteroids. To that end, we have undertaken combined petrologic, geochemical, and spectroscopic analyses of CM and CI chondrites and outer Main Belt asteroids. Using the SpeX spectrograph/imager at NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF), we measured near-infrared (NIR: 0.7-4.0 µm) spectra of 40 outer Main Belt asteroids that allowed the identification of four 3-µm spectral groups, each of which presumably reflects a distinct surface mineralogy. We also measured spectra of 9 CM chondrites (in addition to the CI chondrite Ivuna) in the laboratory under asteroid-like conditions. These measurements revealed three spectral groups of CM chondrites, all of which are distinct from the spectrum of Ivuna on the basis of the 3-μm band center and shape of spectra, showing that distinct parent body aqueous alteration environments experienced by different carbonaceous chondrites can be distinguished using reflectance spectroscopy. All CM and CI chondrites in the present study are found to be similar to the group of asteroids that are located in the 2.5 < a < 3.3 AU region and exhibit a sharp 3-µm feature, attributed to OH-stretching in hydrated minerals. However, no meteorite match was found for asteroids with a rounded 3-µm feature that are located farther from the Sun (3.0 < a < 4.0 AU), or for groups with distinctive spectra like 1 Ceres or 52 Europa.

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