Liquids/Liquid objects/Meteorites

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Fragments of a crushed 4 gram meteorite (SM2) belonging to the Sutter's Mill meteorite. Credit: Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute) and Eric James (NASA Ames).

Liquid "water [has been detected] in fragments of the Sutter's Mill meteorite."[1]

A "tiny calcite crystal [harbored] an even smaller (think nanoscale) liquid containing at least 15% carbon dioxide. This finding confirmed that both liquid water and also carbon dioxide can exist in ancient space rocks."[1]

"There are many theories about where and how Earth got its water. One of the leading theories suggests that water fell to Earth, trapped inside objects like meteorites (specifically, carbonaceous chondrites). According to this theory, water molecules incorporated in the crystal structures of minerals in these space rocks could be a source of Earth's water."[2]

"Water is preserved in carbonaceous chondrites as hydroxyl and/or H2O molecules in hydrous minerals, but has not been found as liquid. To uncover such liquid, we performed synchrotron-based x-ray computed nanotomography and transmission electron microscopy with a cryo-stage of the aqueously altered carbonaceous chondrite Sutter’s Mill. We discovered CO2-bearing fluid (CO2/H2O > ~0.15) in a nanosized inclusion incorporated into a calcite crystal, appearing as CO2 ice and/or CO2 hydrate at 173 K. This is direct evidence of dynamic evolution of the solar system, requiring the Sutter’s Mill’s parent body to have formed outside the CO2 snow line and later transportation to the inner solar system because of Jupiter’s orbital instability."[3]

Tagish Lake meteorite[edit | edit source]

As with many carbonaceous chondrites,[4] and petrologic Type 2 specimens in particular, Tagish Lake contains water. The meteorite contains water-bearing serpentinite and saponite phyllosilicates;[5][6] gypsum has been found, but may be weathering of meteoritic sulfides. The water is not Earthly contamination but isotopically different from terrestrial water.[7][8]

Nakhlites[edit | edit source]

Nakhla meteorite's two sides and its inner surfaces are shown after breaking it. Credit: NASA.

Nakhlites are named after the first of them, the Nakhla meteorite, which fell in El-Nakhla, Alexandria, Egypt in 1911 and had an estimated weight of 10 kg.

Nakhlites are igneous rocks that are rich in augite and were formed from basaltic magma from at least four eruptions, spanning around 90 million years, from 1416 ± 7 to 1322 ± 10 million years ago.[9] They contain augite and olivine crystals. Their crystallization ages, compared to a crater count chronology of different regions on Mars, suggest the nakhlites formed on the large volcanic construct of either Tharsis, Elysium, or Syrtis Major Planum.[10]

It has been shown that the nakhlites were suffused with liquid water around 620 million years ago, ejected from Mars around 10.75 million years ago by an asteroid impact and fell to Earth within the last 10,000 years.[10]

Monahans and Zag meteorites[edit | edit source]

Zag/Monahans meteorites and their halite crystals. Credit: Queenie H. S. Chan, Michael E. Zolensky, Yoko Kebukawa, Marc Fries, Motoo Ito, Andrew Steele, Zia Rahman, Aiko Nakato, A. L. David Kilcoyne, Hiroki Suga, Yoshio Takahashi, Yasuo Takeichi, and Kazuhiko Mase. {{fairuse}}

"Direct samples of early solar system fluids are present in these two ordinary chondrite regolith breccias [Monahans (1998) (H5), hereafter referred to as “Monahans,” and Zag (H3-6)], which were found to contain brine-bearing halite (NaCl) and sylvite (KCl) crystals (hereafter collectively called “halite”) that have been added to the regolith of an S-type asteroid following the latter’s thermal metamorphism [...] (1, 4). Halite’s typical association with water as an evaporite mineral underscores its importance from the origin and detection of life perspective, in terms of the development of life via offering crystalline surfaces as adsorption sites for catalytic synthesis, concentration, polymerization, and organization of prebiotic molecules (5). Furthermore, inclusions in halite crystals raise the possibility of trapping life and/or biomolecules from the evaporating aqueous phase (6). The brine solutions in Zag and Monahans halite are samples of exogenous liquid water that record primitive aqueous processes on early planetesimals, and the halite hosts of the brines retain clues to the location and timing of the aqueous alteration event and capture an inventory of associated organic species."[11]

The image on the right contains "(A) Diagram showing the lithologies of the Zag and Monahans meteorites, their dark (carbonaceous) clasts, the halite crystals, and the fluid and solid inclusions within the halite crystals. (B) Halite crystals hosted in the matrix regions of the Zag meteorite. The arrow marks one of the several halite crystals shown in this photo. (C) A microphotograph showing a halite crystal subsampled from the Zag meteorite. (D) Halite crystals subsampled from the Zag meteorite contained in a pre-sterilized glass ampoule before hot-water extraction."[11]

Northwest Africa 7034[edit | edit source]

The Martian meteorite NWA 7034 weighs approximately 11 ounces (320 grams). Credit: NASA.

Northwest Africa 7034 is a Martian meteorite believed to be the second oldest yet discovered.[12] It is estimated to be two billion years old and contains the most water of any Martian meteorite found on Earth.[13] Although it is from Mars it does not fit into any of the three SNC meteorite categories, and forms a new Martian meteorite group named "Martian (basaltic breccia)".[14] Nicknamed "Black Beauty", it was purchased in Morocco and a slice of it was donated to the University of New Mexico by its American owner.[14]

The meteorite was found in Rabt Sbayta, Ghredad Sabti region, Western Sahara,[15] in the Sahara Desert in 2011,[16] and was purchased in Morocco by a meteorite dealer who sold it to a collector in the United States,[14] as Morocco does not have meteorite export control laws. Like all meteorites that are found in large numbers or sold at markets the name stands for the geographic region (Northwest Africa) and a number, which is given out consecutively.[17] NWA 7034 carries the nickname "Black Beauty".[12]

NWA 7034 is a volcanic breccia that has a porphyritic appearance, consisting of plagioclase (andesine) and pyroxene (pigeonite and augite) phenocrysts that are up to 5 mm in diameter set in a fine grained groundmass, with accessory minerals including chlorapatite, chromite, goethite, ilmenite, magnetite, maghemite, alkali feldspar and pyrite.[13] There are even some clasts present that are made of quenched magma. The groundmass is made from fine grained plagioclase, pyroxene, different oxide minerals, and traces of iron sulfides.[14] The whole rock chemistry revealed that NWA 7034 has the highest water content ever measured in a Martian meteorite.[16] The water might be derived from oceans that used to exist on Mars, but were still present when the volcanic rock, that would eventually become the meteorite, was erupted.[18]

The meteorite contains components as old as 4.42 ± 0.07 Ga (billion years),[19] and was heated during the Amazonian period of Mars.[20] It is the second oldest Martian meteorite known.[13][16][21] However, a team of Japanese researchers who studied the meteorite concluded that water on Mars originated around 4.4 billion years ago.[22]

NWA 7034 is the first Martian meteorite that is a breccia and does not fall in any of the known Martian meteorite groups (shergottite, nakhlite, chassignite and ALH 84001).[23] NWA 7034 was classified as an ungrouped planetary achondrite until the Meteoritical Society approved the new designation "Martian (basaltic breccia)" in January 2013. The iron/manganese ratio is consistent with that of other Martian meteorites, but the oxygen isotopes do not correlate with a Martian origin. The change in oxygen isotope ratios could be explained by removal or addition of heavier or lighter isotopes, or by mixing with a mass with a different isotopic ratio. This could happen during metasomatism (aqueous alteration) of the Martian crust. Another explanation would be an isotopic contamination of the Martian crust during impact brecciation.[23]

If it were a terrestrial rock it would be classified as a regolith breccia.[24]

Tissint meteorite[edit | edit source]

This martian meteorite fell to earth on July 18, 2011 in a valley east of Tata, Morocco. Credit: Jon Taylor.{{free media}}

This historic event marks the first witnessed fall of a martian meteorite since Zagami in 1962! Tissint is a shergottite with glossy black fusion crust and a light gray matrix. Despite it's small size, this specimen displays some nice fusion crust.

Tissint is the fifth Martian meteorite that people have witnessed falling to Earth, and the first since 1962.[25]

On July 18, 2011, around 2 AM local time, a bright fireball was observed by several people in the Oued Drâa valley, east of Tata, Morocco.[26]

One 47 g (1.7 oz) crusted stone was documented as found at 29°28.917’ N, 7°36.674’ W.[27] The exposed interior of the stones appears pale green-grey in color, with mm-sized, pale yellow olivine phenocrysts with sparse vesicular pockets and thin veins of black glass.[27]

Tissint was named after the town of Tissint, 48 kilometres (30 mi) away from the fall site.[28]

The meteorite was ejected from the surface of Mars between 700,000 and 1,1 million years ago.[29] Tissint appears to be derived from a deep mantle source region that was unlike any of the other known Martian shergottite meteorites.[29]

The material is highly shocked and indicates it was ejected during the largest impact excavation in record.[30] Given the widely dispersed shock melting observed in Tissint, alteration of other soft minerals (carbonates, halides, sulfates and even organics), especially along grain boundaries, might have occurred which may in part explain the lack of such minerals in Tissint,[30] but it is unknown if it is of biotic origin.[31]

The meteorite fragments were recovered within days after the fall, so it is considered an "uncontaminated" meteorite.[32] The meteorite displays evidence of water weathering, and there are signs of elements being carried into cracks in the rocks by water or fluid, which is something never seen before in a Martian meteorite.[33] Specifically, scientists found carbon and nitrogen-containing compounds associated with hydrothermal mineral inclusions.[34][31] One team reported measuring an elevated carbon-13 (13C) ratio,[35] while another team reported a low 13C ratio as compared to the content in Mars' atmosphere and crust, and suggested that it may be of biological origin, but the researchers also noted that there are several geological processes that could explain that without invoking complex life-processes;[31] for example, it could be of meteoritic origin and would have been mixed with Martian soil when meteorites and comets impact the surface of Mars,[31] or of volcanic origin.[36]

The Martian weathering features in Tissint are compatible with the results of spacecraft observations of Mars, and Tissint has a cosmic ray dating exposure age of 0.7 ± 0.3 Ma—consistent with the reading of many other shergottites, notably EETA79001, suggesting that they were ejected from Mars during the same event.[35][37]

Murchison meteorite[edit | edit source]

This Murchison meteorite specimen is at the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. Credit: Basilicofresco.

The oldest material found on Earth to date are the silicon carbide particles from the Murchison meteorite, which have been determined to be 7 billion years old, about 2.5 billion years older than the 4.54-billion-year age of the Earth and the Solar System, since they originated at a time before the Sun was formed, but "dust lifetime estimates mainly rely on sophisticated theoretical models. These models, however, focus on the more common small dust grains and are based on assumptions with large uncertainties."[38]

Like most CM chondrites, Murchison is petrologic type 2, which means that it experienced extensive alteration by water-rich fluids on its parent body[39] before falling to Earth.

Murchison meteorite silicon carbide particles had been determined to be 7 billion years old, 2.5 billion years older than the 4.54 billion years age of the Earth and the solar system, and the oldest material found on Earth to date.[40][38]

Alais meteorite[edit | edit source]

A fragment of the meteorite is on display in 2018. Credit: Eunostos.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Chelsea Gohd (11 May 2021). "Scientists find liquid water inside a meteorite, revealing clues about the early solar system". SmartBrief. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  2. Akira Tsuchiyama (11 May 2021). "Scientists find liquid water inside a meteorite, revealing clues about the early solar system". SmartBrief. Retrieved 16 May 2021.
  3. Akira Tsuchiyama, Akira Miyake, Satoshi Okuzumi, Akira Kitayama, Jun Kawano, Kentaro Uesugi, Akihisa Takeuchi, Tsukasa Nakano and Michael Zolensky (21 Apr 2021). "Discovery of primitive CO2-bearing fluid in an aqueously altered carbonaceous chondrite". Science Advances 7 (17): eabg9707. doi:10.1126/sciadv.abg9707. Retrieved 16 May 2021. 
  4. Alexander, C; Bowden, R; Fogel, M; Howard, K; Herd, C; Nittler, L (10 Aug 2012). "The Provenances of Asteroids, and Their Contributions to the Volatile Inventories of the Terrestrial Planets". Science 337 (6095): 721–3. doi:10.1126/science.1223474. PMID 22798405. 
  5. Izawa, M; Flemming, R; King, P; Peterson, R; McCausland, P (July 2010). "Mineralogical and spectroscopic investigation of the Tagish Lake carbonaceous chondrite by X‐ray diffraction and infrared reflectance spectroscopy". Meteoritics & Planetary Science 45 (4): 675. doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2010.01043.x. 
  6. Blinova, A; Zega, T; Herd, C; Stroud, R (Feb 2014). "Testing variations within the Tagish Lake meteorite-I: Mineralogy and petrology of Pristine Samples". Meteoritics & Planetary Science 49 (4): 473. doi:10.1111/maps.12271. 
  7. Gilmour, C; Herd, C; Cloutis, E; Cuddy, M; Mann, P (2016). Water abundance in the Tagish Lake meteorite from TGA and IR spectroscopy: Evaluation of aqueous alteration. 47th LPSC.
  8. Baker, L; Franchi, I; Wright, I; Pillinger, C (2002). "The oxygen isotopic composition of water from Tagish Lake: Its relationship to low-temperature phases and to other carbonaceous chondrites". Meteoritics & Planetary Science 37 (7): 977. doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2002.tb00870.x. 
  9. Cohen, Benjamin E.; Mark, Darren F.; Cassata, William S.; Lee, Martin R.; Tomkinson, Tim; Smith, Caroline L. (2017-10-03). "Taking the pulse of Mars via dating of a plume-fed volcano". Nature Communications 8 (1): 640. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-00513-8. PMID 28974682. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Treiman, A.H. (2005). "The nakhlite meteorites: Augite-rich igneous rocks from Mars". Chemie der Erde 65 (3): 203–270. doi:10.1016/j.chemer.2005.01.004. Retrieved July 30, 2011. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Queenie H. S. Chan, Michael E. Zolensky, Yoko Kebukawa, Marc Fries, Motoo Ito, Andrew Steele, Zia Rahman, Aiko Nakato, A. L. David Kilcoyne, Hiroki Suga, Yoshio Takahashi, Yasuo Takeichi, and Kazuhiko Mase (3 January 2018). "Organic matter in extraterrestrial water-bearing salt crystals". Science Advances 4 (1): eaao3521. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aao3521. PMID 29349297. Retrieved 17 May 2021. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Associated Press (January 4, 2013). Mars meteorite 'Black Beauty' contains most water of any found on Earth, say scientists. The Guardian
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Agee, C. B.; Wilson, N. V.; McCubbin, F. M.; Ziegler, K. et al. (3 January 2013). "Unique Meteorite from Early Amazonian Mars: Water-Rich Basaltic Breccia Northwest Africa 7034". Science 339 (6121): 780–785. doi:10.1126/science.1228858. PMID 23287721. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 "NWA 7034". Meteoritical Society. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  15. "Northwest Africa 7034/7533 and pairings". Meteorite Studies.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Staff (January 3, 2013). "Researchers Identify Water Rich Meteorite Linked To Mars Crust". NASA. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  17. "Guidelines for meteorite nomenclature". Meteoritical Society. p. Section 3.4)c) and Section 3.5. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  18. "Mars Meteorite May Be Missing Link to Red Planet's Past". Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  19. Nyquist, Laurence E.; Shih, Chi-Yu; McCubbin, Francis M.; Santos, Alison R.; Shearer, Charles K.; Peng, Zhan X.; Burger, Paul V.; Agee, Carl B. (2016-02-17). "Rb-Sr and Sm-Nd isotopic and REE studies of igneous components in the bulk matrix domain of Martian breccia Northwest Africa 7034". Meteoritics & Planetary Science 51 (3): 483–498. doi:10.1111/maps.12606. ISSN 1086-9379. 
  20. Cassata, William S.; Cohen, Benjamin E.; Mark, Darren F.; Trappitsch, Reto; Crow, Carolyn A.; Wimpenny, Joshua; Lee, Martin R.; Smith, Caroline L. (2018-05-01). "Chronology of martian breccia NWA 7034 and the formation of the martian crustal dichotomy". Science Advances 4 (5): eaap8306. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aap8306. ISSN 2375-2548. PMID 29806017. PMC 5966191. // 
  21. Williams, Rob (4 January 2013). "'Black Beauty' rock is a 2 billion year old unique 'meteorite' from Mars, say scientists". London: Independent. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  22. "Water was formed 4.4 billion years ago on Mars: Study". 1 November 2020.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Agee, C. B.; N.V. Wilson; F.M. McCubbin; Z.D. Sharp; K. Ziegler (2012). "Basaltic Breccia NWA 7034: New ungrouped planetary Achondrite". 43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Retrieved 4 January 2013. 
  24. "Elemental and Oxygen Isotopic Composition of Martian Mafic Regolith Breccia NWA 7475" (PDF). Meteoritical Society. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  25. Wall, Mike (17 January 2012). "Rare Mars Rocks Crashed to Earth in July". Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  26. TissintMeteorite: New MarsMeteorite fall inMorocco. (PDF). A. Ibhi*, H. Nachit, El H. Abia. Laboratory of Geo-heritage and Geo-materials Science, Ibn Zohr University, Agadir, Morocco. 2013.
  27. 27.0 27.1 "Meteoritical Bulletin: Entry for Tissint". The Meteoritical Society. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  28. Parry, Wynne (14 October 2012). "Mars Meteorite: Tissint, Space Rock That Hit Moroccan Desert, To Be Auctioned Sunday". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  29. 29.0 29.1 T. Schulz, P. P. Povinec, L. Ferrière, A. J. Timothy Jull, A. Kováčik, I. Sýkora, J. Tusch, C. Münker, D. Topa, C. Koeberl (February 2020). "The history of the Tissint meteorite, from its crystallization on Mars to its exposure in space: New geochemical, isotopic, and cosmogenic nuclide data". Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi:10.1111/maps.12258. 
  30. 30.0 30.1 The Tissint Martian meteorite as evidence for the largest impact excavation. Ioannis P. Baziotis, Yang Liu, Paul S. DeCarli, H. Jay Melosh, Harry Y. McSween, Robert J. Bodnar and Lawrence A. Taylor. Nature Communications volume 4, Article number: 1404 (2013) Publisged online: 29 January 2013. doi=10.1038/ncomms2414 }}
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 NanoSIMS Analysis Of Organic Carbon From The Tissint Martian Meteorite: Evidence For The Past Existence Of Subsurface Organic-Bearing Fluids On Mars. Ulin Yangtin et. al, Meteoritics & Planetary Science, December 2014, doi:10.1111/maps.12389
  32. Evidence of martian perchlorate, chlorate, and nitrate in Mars meteorite EETA79001: Implications for oxidants and organics. Samuel P. Kounaves, Brandi L. Carrier, Glen D. O’Neil, Shannon T. Stroble, Mark W. Claire. Icarus. Volume 229, February 2014, Pages 206-213. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2013.11.012
  33. Cockerton, Paul (11 October 2012). "Rock of ages: 700,000-year-old Martian meteorite provides evidence of water weathering on Red Planet". The Mirror. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  34. Organic Carbon Inventory of the Tissint Meteorite, Steele, A.; McCubbin, F. M.; Benning, et. al. 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held March 18–22, 2013 in The Woodlands, Texas. LPI Contribution No. 1719, p.2854.
  35. 35.0 35.1 Chennaoui Aoudjehane, H.; Avice, G.; Barrat, J. - A.; Boudouma, O.; Chen, G.; Duke, M. J. M.; Franchi, I. A.; Gattacceca, J. et al. (2012). "Tissint Martian Meteorite: A Fresh Look at the Interior, Surface, and Atmosphere of Mars". Science 338 (6108): 785–788. doi:10.1126/science.1224514. PMID 23065902. 
  36. Mystery of Martian Meteorites Organic Stuff Solved. Charles Q. Choi, Space. May 2012. Quote: "However, thee organic molecules do not appear biological in origin. They formed from volcanic processes." —Andrew Steele.
  37. Bhanoo, Sindya N. (15 October 2012). "A 700,000–Year Trip From Mars to Morocco". NY Times. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  38. 38.0 38.1 Heck, Philipp R.; Greer, Jennika; Kööp, Levke; Trappitsch, Reto; Gyngard, Frank; Busemann, Henner; Maden, Colin; Ávila, Janaína N. et al. (13 January 2020). "Lifetimes of interstellar dust from cosmic ray exposure ages of presolar silicon carbide". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117 (4): 1884–1889. doi:10.1073/pnas.1904573117. PMID 31932423. 
  39. Airieau, S. A.; Farquhar, J.; Thiemens, M. H.; Leshin, L. A.; Bao, H.; Young, E. (2005). "Planetesimal sulfate and aqueous alteration in CM and CI carbonaceous chondrites". Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 69 (16): 4167–4172. doi:10.1016/j.gca.2005.01.029. 
  40. Weisberger, Mindy (13 January 2020). "7 Billion-Year-Old Stardust Is Oldest Material Found on Earth - Some of these ancient grains are billions of years older than our sun". Live Science. Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 13 January 2020.

External links[edit | edit source]

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