Interior textures, chemical compositions, and noble gas signatures of Antarctic cosmic spherules: Possible sources of spherules with long exposure ages

Takahito Osawa, Yukio Yamamoto, Takaaki Noguchi, Akari Iose, Keisuke Nagao

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The interior texture and chemical and noble gas composition of 99 cosmic spherules collected from the meteorite ice field around the Yamato Mountains in Antarctica were investigated. Their textures were used to classify the spherules into six different types reflecting the degree of heating: 13 were cryptocrystalline, 40 were barred olivine, 3 were porphyritic A, 24 were porphyritic B, 9 were porphyritic C, and 10 were partially melted spherules. While a correlation exists between the type of spherule and its noble gas content, there is no significant correlation between its chemical composition and noble gas content. Fifteen of the spherules still had detectable amounts of extraterrestrial He, and the majority of them had 3He/4He ratios that were close to that of solar wind (SW). The Ne isotopic composition of 28 of the spherules clustered between implantation-fractionated SW and air. Extraterrestrial Ar, confirmed to be present because it had a 40Ar/36Ar ratio lower than that of terrestrial atmosphere, was found in 35 of the spherules. An enigmatic spherule, labeled M240410, had an extremely high concentration of cosmogenic nuclides. Assuming 4π exposure to galactic and solar cosmic rays as a micrometeoroid and no exposure on the parent body, the cosmic-ray exposure (CRE) age of 393 Myr could be computed using cosmogenic 21Ne. Under these model assumptions, the inferred age suggests that the particle might have been an Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt object. Alternatively, if exposure near the surface of its parent body was dominant, the CRE age of 382 Myr can be estimated from the cosmogenic 38Ar using the production rate of the 2π exposure geometry, and implies that the particle may have originated in the mature regolith of an asteroid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1320-1339
Number of pages20
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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