An investigation of the carbonaceous material in the Orgueil, Murray, Mokoia, and Lance carbonaceous chondritic meteorites



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The Orgueil Murray, Mokoia and Lancd carbonaceous chondritic meteorites were analyzed for their amino acid content employing methods similar to thase used to Isolate amino acids from terrestrial sediments. An automatic ion-exchange chromatographic technique indicated that only the Murray meteorite sample contained ninhydrin positive compounds identified as common protein amino acids. The other meteorites studied contained either no detectable amounts of these type acids or only trace amounts, these being considered to have arisen during the analysis. Available data indicated that the amino acids detected in the Murray were not indigenous to the meteorite sample, but originated from terrestrial contamination acquired since its fall. The bulk of the carbonaceous material in the Orgueil meteorite, which exists as a relatively intractable, insoluble substance, was subjected to analysis by physical and chemical methods. X-ray diffraction and elemental compositional data suggested that the material may be structurally similar to terrestrial carbonaceous materials such as lignitic coals and coaly type kerogens. Oxidative degradation of the meteorite material produced a complex mixture containing components whose identification could not be ascertained. Preliminary paper chromatographic and infrared data however did indicate that compounds possessing carboxylic acid, aromatic, hydroxy aromatic, ester, and ether structures may be present. Soluble aromatic hydroxy compounds were searched for in ether extracts of the Orgueil meteorite using methods which have been used to extract phenolic substances from terrestrial sediments. Sensitive paper chromatographic methods failed to detect any such compounds in the meteorite sample. A possible origin for the insoluble, carbonaceous material was suggested on the basis of data presently available.