Asteroidal water within fluid inclusion-bearing halite in an H5 chondrite, Monahans (1998)
Crystals of halite and sylvite within the Monahans (1998) H5 chondrite contain aqueous fluid inclusions. The fluids are dominantly sodium chloride-potassium chloride brines, but they also contain divalent cations such as iron, magnesium, or calcium. Two possible origins for the brines are indigenous fluids flowing within the asteroid and exogenous fluids delivered into the asteroid surface from a salt-containing icy object. (+info)
Impact event at the Permian-Triassic boundary: evidence from extraterrestrial noble gases in fullerenes.
The Permian-Triassic boundary (PTB) event, which occurred about 251.4 million years ago, is marked by the most severe mass extinction in the geologic record. Recent studies of some PTB sites indicate that the extinctions occurred very abruptly, consistent with a catastrophic, possibly extraterrestrial, cause. Fullerenes (C60 to C200) from sediments at the PTB contain trapped helium and argon with isotope ratios similar to the planetary component of carbonaceous chondrites. These data imply that an impact event (asteroidal or cometary) accompanied the extinction, as was the case for the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event about 65 million years ago. (+info)
The Tagish Lake meteorite: a possible sample from a D-type asteroid.
A new type of carbonaceous chondrite, the Tagish Lake meteorite, exhibits a reflectance spectrum similar to spectra observed from the D-type asteroids, which are relatively abundant in the outer solar system beyond the main asteroid belt and have been inferred to be more primitive than any known meteorite. Until the Tagish Lake fall, these asteroids had no analog in the meteorite collections. The Tagish Lake meteorite is a carbon-rich (4 to 5 weight %), aqueously altered carbonaceous chondrite and contains high concentrations of presolar grains and carbonate minerals, which is consistent with the expectation that the D-type asteroids were originally made of primitive materials and did not experience any extensive heating. (+info)
Impact melting of frozen oceans on the early Earth: implications for the origin of life.
Without sufficient greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the early Earth would have become a permanently frozen planet because the young Sun was less luminous than it is today. Several resolutions to this faint young Sun-frozen Earth paradox have been proposed, with an atmosphere rich in CO2 being the one generally favored. However, these models assume that there were no mechanisms for melting a once frozen ocean. Here we show that bolide impacts between about 3.6 and 4.0 billion years ago could have episodically melted an ice-covered early ocean. Thaw-freeze cycles associated with bolide impacts could have been important for the initiation of abiotic reactions that gave rise to the first living organisms. (+info)
A new source of basaltic meteorites inferred from Northwest Africa 011.
Eucrites are a class of basaltic meteorites that share common mineralogical, isotopic, and chemical properties and are thought to have been derived from the same parent body, possibly asteroid 4 Vesta. The texture, mineralogy, and noble gas data of the recently recovered meteorite, Northwest Africa (NWA) 011, are similar to those of basaltic eucrites. However, the oxygen isotopic composition of NWA011 is different from that of other eucrites, indicating that NWA011 may be derived from a different parent body. The presence of basaltic meteorites with variable oxygen isotopic composition suggests the occurrence of multiple basaltic meteorite parent bodies, perhaps similar to 4 Vesta, in the early solar system. (+info)
Ascent of dinosaurs linked to an iridium anomaly at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary.
Analysis of tetrapod footprints and skeletal material from more than 70 localities in eastern North America shows that large theropod dinosaurs appeared less than 10,000 years after the Triassic-Jurassic boundary and less than 30,000 years after the last Triassic taxa, synchronous with a terrestrial mass extinction. This extraordinary turnover is associated with an iridium anomaly (up to 285 parts per trillion, with an average maximum of 141 parts per trillion) and a fern spore spike, suggesting that a bolide impact was the cause. Eastern North American dinosaurian diversity reached a stable maximum less than 100,000 years after the boundary, marking the establishment of dinosaur-dominated communities that prevailed for the next 135 million years. (+info)
Environmental effects of large impacts on Mars.
The martian valley networks formed near the end of the period of heavy bombardment of the inner solar system, about 3.5 billion years ago. The largest impacts produced global blankets of very hot ejecta, ranging in thickness from meters to hundreds of meters. Our simulations indicated that the ejecta warmed the surface, keeping it above the freezing point of water for periods ranging from decades to millennia, depending on impactor size, and caused shallow subsurface or polar ice to evaporate or melt. Large impacts also injected steam into the atmosphere from the craters or from water innate to the impactors. From all sources, a typical 100-, 200-, or 250-kilometers asteroid injected about 2, 9, or 16 meters, respectively, of precipitable water into the atmosphere, which eventually rained out at a rate of about 2 meters per year. The rains from a large impact formed rivers and contributed to recharging aquifers. (+info)
Sediment-dispersed extraterrestrial chromite traces a major asteroid disruption event.
Abundant extraterrestrial chromite grains from decomposed meteorites occur in middle Ordovician (480 million years ago) marine limestone over an area of approximately 250,000 square kilometers in southern Sweden. The chromite anomaly gives support for an increase of two orders of magnitude in the influx of meteorites to Earth during the mid-Ordovician, as previously indicated by fossil meteorites. Extraterrestrial chromite grains in mid-Ordovician limestone can be used to constrain in detail the temporal variations in flux of extraterrestrial matter after one of the largest asteroid disruption events in the asteroid belt in late solar-system history. (+info)