The evolution of material in the inner solar system: Elucidating the history of enstatite chondrites

Lead Research Organisation: The Open University
Department Name: Faculty of Sci, Tech, Eng & Maths (STEM)


The solar system formed from a disk of dust and gas, and this can be analysed using meteorites that date from this time. The student will undertake a detailed study of materials that date from this time and place - specifically the enstatite meteorites, which may have originated in the innermost part of the disk.
Chondritic meteorites are relicts from the early solar system composed largely of sub-spherical um-to-mm sized objects called chondrules. Enstatite chondrites are isotopic twins to the Earth-Moon system, suggesting a genetic connection.
In addition, recent orbital data from the MESSENGER mission to Mercury have shown that it has chemical similarities to the enstatite chondrites, for example high sulphur abundances and Mg/Si ratios.
This rare meteorite group (only around 500 enstatite meteorites are known) are therefore highly likely to be products of the inner solar system; if not direct ancestors then possible 'aunts' to the terrestrial planets.
The enstatite chondrites are remarkable for their extremely reduced mineralogy; sulphides and metal are very abundant and the main silicate is FeO-poor enstatite. Reduced C and N bearing minerals such as SiC, graphite and nierite (Si3N4) are relatively abundant. High temperature solids such as calcium aluminium-rich inclusions (CAIs) are rare.
The student will analyse the chemistry and isotope systematics of individual, pristine, chondrules, CAIs and isolated sulphide grains from the most primitive available enstatite chondrites.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/S505584/1 30/09/2019 30/05/2027
2285741 Studentship ST/S505584/1 30/09/2019 30/05/2027 Louise Zenie