Effects of pressure on model compounds of meteorite organic matter

Christian Potiszil, Wren Montgomery, Mark A. Sephton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Extraterrestrial organic matter has been widely studied; however, its response to pressure has not. Primitive organic matter bearing meteorites, such as CI and CM carbonaceous chondrites, have experienced variable pressures, up to 10 GPa. To appreciate the effects of these pressures on the organic content of these bodies, the model compounds isophthalic acid, vanillin, and vanillic acid were subjected to pressures of up to 11.5 GPa and subsequently decompressed. High-resolution synchrotron source Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy was used to determine the effects of different benzene substituents at high pressure on both the vibrational assignments of the benzene core of the molecules and the ability of the aromatic compounds to form intermolecular hydrogen bonds. The presence of additional peaks at high pressure was found to coincide with molecules that contain carboxyl groups; these features are interpreted as C−H···O intermolecular hydrogen bonds. The formation of these hydrogen bonds has implications for the origination of macromolecular organic matter (MOM), owing to the importance of such attractive forces during episodes of cross-linking, such as esterification. Pressure-induced hydrogen-bond formation is a process by which aromatic MOM precursors could have cross-linked to generate the organic polymers found within extraterrestrial bodies today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-482
Number of pages8
JournalACS Earth and Space Chemistry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Aromatic
  • Carbonaceous chondrite
  • Extraterrestrial
  • Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy
  • High pressure
  • Intermolecular hydrogen bonding
  • Meteorite organic matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science


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