Extraterrestrial chromite in Middle Ordovician marine limestone at Kinnekulle, southern Sweden—Traces of a major asteroid breakup event
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CitationSchmitz, B., & Häggström, T. (2006). Extraterrestrial chromite in Middle Ordovician marine limestone at Kinnekulle, southern Sweden—Traces of a major asteroid breakup event. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 41(3), 455-466.
PublisherThe Meteoritical Society
JournalMeteoritics & Planetary Science
AbstractThe distribution of sediment-dispersed extraterrestrial chromite grains and other Cr-rich spinels (>63 micrometers) has been studied in Middle Ordovician Orthoceratite Limestone from two quarries at Kinnekulle, southern Sweden. In the Thorsberg quarry, an 3.2 m thick sequence of beds previously shown to be rich in fossil meteorites is also rich in sediment-dispersed extraterrestrial chromite grains. Typically, 1-3 grains are found per kilogram of limestone. In the nearby Hällekis quarry, the same beds show similarly high concentrations of extraterrestrial chromite grains, but in samples representing the 9 m downward continuation of the section exposed at this site, only 5 such grains were found in a total of 379 kg of limestone. The extraterrestrial (equilibrated ordinary chondritic) chromite grains can be readily distinguished by a homogeneous and characteristic major element chemistry, including 2.0-3.5 wt% TiO2 and stable V2O3 concentrations close to 0.7 wt%. Terrestrial Cr-rich spinels have a wide compositional range and co-exist with extraterrestrial chromite in some beds. These grains may be derived, for example, from mafic dykes exposed and weathered at the sea floor.Considering lithologic and stratigraphic aspects variations in sedimentation rate cannot explain the dramatic increase in extraterrestrial chromite seen in the upper part of the composite section studied. Instead, the difference may be primarily related to an increase in the ancient flux of extraterrestrial matter to Earth in connection with the disruption of the L chondrite parent body in the asteroid belt at about this time. The coexistence in some beds of high concentrations of chondritic chromite and terrestrial Cr-rich spinels, however, indicates that redistribution of heavy minerals on the sea floor, related to changes in sea level and sea-floor erosion and currents, must also be considered.