Nano-diamonds isolated from acid dissolution residues of primitive carbonaceous meteorites (Allende and Murchison) were studied using high-resolution transmission electron microscopy. To discriminate among their most likely formation mechanisms, high-pressure shock-induced metamorphism or low-pressure vapor condensation, the microstructures of presolar diamond crystallites were compared to those of (terrestrial) synthesized nano-diamonds. The synthesized diamonds used for comparison in this study were produced by high-pressure shock waves generated in controlled detonations and by direct nucleation and homoepitaxial growth from the vapor phase in low-pressure chemical vapor deposition (CVD)-type processes. Microstructural features were identified that appear unique to shock metamorphism and to nucleation from the vapor phase, respectively. A comparison of these features to the microstructures found in presolar diamonds indicates that the predominant mechanism for presolar diamond formation is a vapor deposition process, suggesting a circumstellar condensation origin. A new presolar grain component has also been identified in the meteoritic residues, the (2H) hexagonal polytype of diamond (lonsdaleite).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology