Report

Isotopic Evidence for a Terrestrial Source of Organic Compounds Found in Martian Meteorites Allan Hills 84001 and Elephant Moraine 79001

Science  16 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5349, pp. 366-369
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5349.366

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Abstract

Stepped-heating experiments on martian meteorites Allan Hills 84001 (ALH84001) and Elephant Moraine 79001 (EETA79001) revealed low-temperature (200 to 430 degrees Celsius) fractions with a carbon isotopic composition δ13C between −22 and −33 per mil and a carbon-14 content that is 40 to 60 percent of that of modern terrestrial carbon, consistent with a terrestrial origin for most of the organic material. Intermediate-temperature (400 to 600 degrees Celsius) carbonate-rich fractions of ALH84001 have δ13C of +32 to +40 per mil with a low carbon-14 content, consistent with an extraterrestrial origin, whereas some of the carbonate fraction of EETA79001 is terrestrial. In addition, ALH84001 contains a small preterrestrial carbon component of unknown origin that combusts at intermediate temperatures. This component is likely a residual acid-insoluble carbonate or a more refractory organic phase.

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