Impact melts and breccias trap surprisingly large quantities of water carried by carbonaceous chondrite–like impactors.
Dynamical models and observational evidence indicate that water-rich asteroids and comets deliver water to objects throughout the solar system, but the mechanisms by which this water is captured have been unclear. New experiments reveal that impact melts and breccias capture up to 30% of the water carried by carbonaceous chondrite–like projectiles under impact conditions typical of the main asteroid belt impact and the early phases of planet formation. This impactor-derived water resides in two distinct reservoirs: in impact melts and projectile survivors. Impact melt hosts the bulk of the delivered water. Entrapment of water within impact glasses and melt-bearing breccias is therefore a plausible source of hydration features associated with craters on the Moon and elsewhere in the solar system and likely contributed to the early accretion of water during planet formation.