Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 72:1 (January 1, 2008), pp. 233–241; doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2007.10.008 Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


Linear saturated dicarboxylic acids are present in carbonaceous chondrite samples at concentrations that suggest aqueous alteration under conditions of metastable equilibrium. In this study, previously published values of dicarboxylic acid concentrations measured in Murchison, Yamato-791198, and Tagish Lake carbonaceous chondrites are converted to aqueous activities during aqueous alteration assuming water:rock ratios that range from 1:10 to 10:1. Logarithmic plots of the aqueous activities of any two dicarboxylic acids are proximal to lines whose slope is fixed by the stoichiometry of reactions describing the oxidation–reduction equilibrium between the two species. The precise position of any line is controlled by the equilibrium constant of the reaction relating the species and the hydrogen fugacity for the reaction of interest. Reactions among succinic (C4), glutaric (C5), and adipic (C6) acids obtained from CM2 chondrites show evidence of metastable equilibrium and yield log fH2 values that agree to within 0.3 log units at 298.15 K and 0.6 log units at 473.15 K. At a water:rock ratio of 1:1, metastable equilibrium among succinic, glutaric, and adipic acids results in calculated log fH2 values during aqueous alteration that range from −6.2 at 298.15 K to −3.3 at 373.15 K. These values are consistent with those obtained in previous work on carbonaceous chondrites and with metastable equilibrium at temperatures ranging from 300 to 355 K in contact with cronstedtite + magnetite.