Differentiated planetesimals and the parent bodies of chondrites

Benjamin P. Weiss, Linda T. Elkins-Tanton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Meteorites are samples of dozens of small planetary bodies that formed in the early Solar System. They exhibit great petrologic diversity, ranging from primordial accretional aggregates (chondrites), to partially melted residues (primitive achondrites), to once fully molten magmas (achondrites). It has long been thought that no single parent body could be the source of more than one of these three meteorite lithologies. This view is now being challenged by a variety of new measurements and theoretical models, including the discovery of primitive achondrites, paleomagnetic analyses of chondrites, thermal modeling of planetesimals, the discoveries of new metamorphosed chondrites and achondrites with affinities to some chondrite groups, and the possible identification of extant partially differentiated asteroids. These developments collectively suggest that some chondrites could in fact be samples of the outer, unmelted crusts of otherwise differentiated planetesimals with silicate mantles and metallic cores. This may have major implications for the origin of meteorite groups, the meaning of meteorite paleomagnetism, the rates and onset times of accretion, and the interior structures and histories of asteroids. ©

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-560
Number of pages32
JournalAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Accretion
  • Achondrites
  • Asteroids
  • Chondrites
  • Meteorite parent bodies
  • Onion shell
  • Paleomagnetism
  • Partial differentiation
  • Planetesimals
  • Short-lived radionuclides
  • Thermal metamorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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