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The cosmic-ray exposure history of the big iron Twannberg (IIG) meteorite
Smith, T.; Hofmann, B. A.; Leya, I.; Merchel, S.ORC; Rugel, G.; Pavetich, S.; Scharf, A.
Introduction: The Twannberg iron meteorite is one out of only six members of the group IIG. This group of iron meteorites is characterized by large amount of schreibersite (Fe,Ni) ₃P, and usually low Ni contents (Hofmann et al., 2009#). With the recent new finds (n = 1119 samples, total recovered mass: ~118 kg, up to June 30th, 2018, communication B. A. Hofmann) we have the opportunity to reinvestigate the cosmic-ray exposure history of Twannberg, with a special focus on its terrestrial age, in order to better understand the distribution of the different masses in the context of the last glaciation occurrences in Europe.
Experimental methods: The isotopic concentrations for He, Ne, and Ar have been measured by noble gas mass spectrometry at the University of Bern, following the procedures described earlier (Ammon et al., 2008#, 2009#). Analyses of the cosmogenic radionuclides (i.e., 10Be, 26Al, 36Cl, and 41Ca) have been performed at the DREsden Accelerator Mass Spectrometry facility (DREAMS, Akhmadaliev et al., 2013#) using chemical procedures previously described in Merchel et al. (1999#). In this work, we measured the cosmogenic noble gas and radionuclide concentrations in 14 and 7 Twannberg samples, respectively, from different find locations (Gruebmatt, Twannbach, and Mont Sujet, cf. Figure 1, Smith et al., 2017#).
Fig. 1. Find locations of Twannberg specimens until June 1st, 2016 (n = 570). The larger (red) squares indicate the find locations of the fragments analyzed in this work. The find location of the first mass (TW1, 15.915 kg) is indicated. Red arrow on Mont Sujet is the linear correlation of all Sujet finds and an approximation of the fall direction. LGM = last glacial maximum based on Bini et al. (2009#); OGM = Older glacial maximum (probably corresponding to Beringen/Riss) corresponding to the upper limit of the occurrence of alpine drift (see the Geological Setting section). The area south of the LGM/OGM lines was covered by alpine ice and the general direction of ice flow was from southwest to northeast. The blue arrow indicates the probable transport vector of Gruebmatt meteorites during the Beringen/Riss glaciation. Contour interval is 100 m.
Results and Discussion: First, we observe a wide range of both cosmogenic noble and radionuclide concentrations, e.g. after corrections (i.e. for trapped components, sulfur and/or phosphorus contributions, cf. Smith et al., 2017#), the cosmogenic 21Necos and 38Arcos concentrations vary by factors of 190 and 110, respectively. Based on model calculation (Ammon et al., 2008#), the observed variation of more than two orders of magnitude within all measured samples is only possible when considering a meteoroid with a minimum preatmospheric radius of ~165 cm.
Another approach is to use the cosmogenic (4He/21Ne)cos ratio as a shielding indicator; doing so, we estimate the preatmospheric radius to be ~250 cm.
To conclude, based on both the spread in cosmogenic noble gases and the (4He/21Ne)cos ratio, we infer Twannberg to have a minimum preatmospheric radius in the range of ~2 m, which, when assuming a density of ~7.8 g cm-3, would correspond to a minimal mass of ~250 tons.
Second, we calculated the cosmic-ray exposure (CRE) age of Twannberg using the well-adopted 36Cl-36Ar method (e.g. Lavielle et al., 1999#). We determined an average CRE age of 182±41 Ma. Note that this value is slightly different from the one that has been recently published in Smith et al. (2017#), due to the fact we are now using a new 41Ca half-life of 0.995×10⁵ years (Jörg et al., 2012#) instead of the previous value of 1.04×10⁵ years (Kutschera and Ahmad, 1992#). This modifies the terrestrial age (cf. below), and in return decreases the CRE age by ~5%. However, the new CRE age is still in agreement with the CRE age of 230±50 calculated previously by Hofmann et al. (2009#), as well determined using the 36Cl-36Ar method.
Third, based on new Monte-Carlo calculations, we used the 36Cl-41Ca radionuclide pair to calculate the terrestrial age of Twannberg; we found an age of 190±48 ka. Again, this age is slightly different from the one we reported in Smith et al. (2017#) since we are using here the new 41Ca half-life (cf. above). This terrestrial age, although quite surprising when considering the humid conditions in Switzerland, is 1) consistent with geological evidences (Hofmann et al., 2009; Smith et al., 2017#); and 2) indicates that the Twannberg meteorite fell most likely during or before the second last glaciation in Europe, 185-130 ka ago. This reveals that some of the masses have been glacially transported from an initial position west of Mont Sujet, in the direction of east-northeast (cf. Figure 1).
Acknowledgments: This study heavily relies on samples collected in a great effort by a joint group of meteorite enthusiasts and scientists. We particularly thank for the collaboration and samples: Marc Jost, Manuel Eggimann, Hannes Weiss, Sergey Vasiliev, Andreas Koppelt, Ernst Wyler, Gino Bernasconi, Marcel Häuselmann, and Edwin Gnos. Parts of this research were carried out at the Ion Beam Centre (IBC) at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf e. V., a member of the Helmholtz Association. This work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF).
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Lavielle B. et al. 1999. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 170:93-104
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Smith T. et al. 2017. Meteoritics and Planetary Science 52:2241-2257
Keywords: AMS, cosmogenic nuclide, meteorite
  • Lecture (Conference)
    Annual Meeting of the Chinese Geoscience Union (CGU), 21.-24.10.2018, Beijing, China

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