The micrometeorite flux to Earth during the earliest Paleogene reconstructed in the Bottaccione section (Umbrian Apennines), Italy

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Based on sediment-dispersed extraterrestrial spinel grains in the Bottaccione limestone section in Italy, we reconstructed the micrometeorite flux to Earth during the early Paleocene. From a total of 843 kg of limestone, 86 extraterrestrial spinel grains (12 grains > 63 μm, and 74 in the 32–63 μm fraction) have been recovered. Our results indicate that the micrometeorite flux was not elevated during the early Paleocene. Ordinary chondrites dominated over achondritic meteorites similar to the recent flux, but H chondrites dominated over L and LL chondrites (69%, 22%, and 9%, respectively). This H-chondrite dominance is similar to that recorded within an enigmatic 3He anomaly (70, 27, and 3%) in the Turonian, but different from just before this 3He anomaly and in the early Cretaceous, where ratios are similar to the recent flux (~45%, 45%, and 10%). The K-Ar isotopic ages of recently fallen H chondrites indicate a small impact event on the H-chondrite parent body ~50 to 100 Ma ago. We tentatively suggest that this event is recorded by the Turonian 3He anomaly, resulting in an H-chondrite dominance up to the Paleocene. Our sample spanning the 20 cm above the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) boundary did not yield any spinel grains related to the K–Pg boundary impactor.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1615-1628
Number of pages14
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul 1
Publication categoryResearch