Thin cross-section of meteoritic ejecta deposit (Credit: Simon Drake), a file of the picture of the Old Man of Storr, Skye, Scotland, in the night (Peter Burnett/iStock)
Scientists have discovered ‘alien’ minerals on the site of a prehistoric meteor strike on scotland’s remote Isle of Skye.
Geologists of the Birkbeck, University of London, were part of a team to investigate the volcanic rocks on Skye, when they spotted the mineral forms of a meteor impact that have never been found on Earth.
Specifically, the team found osbornite, which was previously collected when the space dust on a NASA mission. Initially, scientists thought that they were in search of a volcanic flow deposit called ignimbrite but when they used an electron microprobe, they found the rare space material.
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“When we discovered what it was, we were very surprised, and it was a bit of a shock, because we had not expected that,” says Dr. Andy Beard, a lecturer in Birkbeck’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, in a statement.
The researchers were examining the foot of a 60-million-year-old lava flow, when they discovered the osbornite. Because the mineral form was unmelted, it probably is an original piece of the meteorite, according to the geologists.
The area where the discovery was made is steep and very boggy, which have deterred previous researchers from exploring the site, according to Dr. Simon Drake, a lecturer at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. “We were sinking in to our thighs. I clearly remember says Andy Beard, ” this had better be worth it.’ It was worth it,” he said, in the statement.
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Experts say that the discovery raises questions about the place where the meteorite hit and the impact gave rise to an outpouring of volcanic lava, which began at the same time.
A second site 4.3 km away, also showed the same unusual mineral make-up in what is known as ‘ejecta’ – material ejected from a crater.
The scientific findings are published in the journal GeoScienceWorld.
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