Evidence for Multiple Sources of Diamond from Primitive Chondrites

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  22 Nov 1991:
Vol. 254, Issue 5035, pp. 1188-1191
DOI: 10.1126/science.254.5035.1188


Fine-grained diamonds, the most abundant form of circumstellar dust isolated from primitive meteorites, have elemental and isotopic characteristics that are dependent on the host meteorite type. Carbon isotopic compositions vary from –32 to –38 per mil, and nitrogen associated with the diamond changes in overall abundance by over a factor of four from 0.2 to 0.9 weight percent, between ordinary and CM2-type chondrites. Although the ratio of carbon to nitrogen evolves in a distinctive way during combustion of diamond separates, metamorphic degassing of nitrogen is not the main cause of the differences in nitrogen content. The data suggest that intrinsic differences must have been inherited by the diamonds at the time of their formation and that the diamonds were distributed heterogeneously in the solar nebula during condensation. However, the hypothesis that a distinct nitrogen carrier remains hidden within the diamond cannot be ruled out.