Tom Boonants

PhD student on research project

MSc Chemistry, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 2020
BSc Chemistry, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 2018

Room F8.55, Tel: +32456173204

PhD project title:

Stable and nucleosynthetic isotopic heterogeneity for Sr and Ca across the solar system: Towards a better understanding of early solar nebula processes

Summary: Thanks to continuous innovations in analytical chemistry and mass spectrometry, paralleled by the rapid growth of meteorite collections worldwide, the potential for new breakthroughs in cosmochemistry is greater than ever before. This project combines nucleosynthetic isotope effects with mass-dependent isotope variations, first for the element strontium (Sr), and then for a smaller subset of samples for the element calcium (Ca). The optimized procedures are first applied to bulk ordinary and carbonaceous chondrites, along with howardites-eucrites-diogenites (HEDs) and angrites. In a second phase the miniaturization of the method enables its application to chondritic constituents, such as chondrules and calcium-aluminium-inclusions (CAIs). This way, their stable isotope values (caused by mass-dependent processes) traces the effects of nebular thermal processing on their nucleosynthetic isotope signatures (caused by mass-independent processes). By better constraining the nature of the building blocks of the inner solar system planets and the Earth, this PhD thesis better determines the factors that led to Earth’s habitability, and the arrival of the majority of life-essential volatiles. The ultimate goal of this project is to reconstruct planetary-sized radial mixing events, determining the formation locations of various meteoritic and planetary bodies and reconstructing the original arrangement of the protoplanetary disk before the migration of the gas giants.

PhD advisors: Steven Goderis, Philippe Claeys