The meteoritic material falling on Earth is believed to derive from large break-up or cratering events in the asteroid belt. The flux of extraterrestrial material would then vary in accordance with the timing of such asteroid family-forming events. In order to validate this, we investigated marine sediments representing 15 time-windows in the Phanerozoic for content of micrometeoritic relict chrome-spinel grains (>32 μm). We compare these data with the timing of the 15 largest break-up events involving chrome-spinel–bearing asteroids (S- and V-types). Unexpectedly, our Phanerozoic time windows show a stable flux dominated by ordinary chondrites similar to today’s flux. Only in the mid-Ordovician, in connection with the breakup of the L-chondrite parent body, do we observe an anomalous micrometeorite regime with a two to three orders-of-magnitude increase in the flux of L-chondritic chrome-spinel grains to Earth. This corresponds to a one order-of-magnitude excess in the number of impact craters in the mid-Ordovician following the L-chondrite break-up, the only resolvable peak in Phanerozoic cratering rates indicative of an asteroid shower. We argue that meteorites and small (<1-km-sized) asteroids impacting Earth mainly sample a very small region of orbital space in the asteroid belt. This selectiveness has been remarkably stable over the past 500 Ma.
|Tidskrift||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Status||Published - 2021 jun 15|
- Astronomi, astrofysik och kosmologi