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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Nov 25;105(47):18206-11. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0806049105. Epub 2008 Nov 14.

Micrometeorites from the transantarctic mountains.

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1
Centre Européen de Recherche et d'Enseignement des Géosciences de l'Environnement, Aix-Marseille Université-Centre National de la Recherche, PB80 13545, Aix en Provence, Cedex 4, France.

Abstract

We report the discovery of large accumulations of micrometeorites on the Myr-old, glacially eroded granitic summits of several isolated nunataks in the Victoria Land Transantarctic Mountains. The number (>3,500) of large (>400 mum and up to 2 mm in size) melted and unmelted particles is orders of magnitudes greater than other Antarctic collections. Flux estimates, bedrock exposure ages and the presence of approximately 0.8-Myr-old microtektites suggest that extraterrestrial dust collection occurred over the last 1 Myr, taking up to 500 kyr to accumulate based on 2 investigated find sites. The size distribution and frequency by type of cosmic spherules in the >200-mum size fraction collected at Frontier Mountain (investigated in detail in this report) are similar to those of the most representative known micrometeorite populations (e.g., South Pole Water Well). This and the identification of unusual types in terms of composition (i.e., chondritic micrometeorites and spherulitic aggregates similar to the approximately 480-kyr-old ones recently found in Antarctic ice cores) and size suggest that the Transantarctic Mountain micrometeorites constitute a unique and essentially unbiased collection that greatly extends the micrometeorite inventory and provides material for studies on micrometeorite fluxes over the recent ( approximately 1 Myr) geological past.

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