Meteorite minerals hint at earth extinctions, climate change
PostedSeptember 13, 2013
A huge asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs may not have been the only cosmic event to cause mass extinctions or change Earth’s climate. Tiny minerals leftover from many smaller meteorites could provide the geological evidence needed to show how rocks falling from the sky changed the course of life’s evolution on our planet more than just once.
The tiny minerals called spinels—about the size of a sand grain—can survive the harshest weather and chemical changes on Earth’s surface. Swedish researchers hope to collect enough of the spinels in different parts of the world to connect the dots between the breakup of huge asteroids in space and certain extinction or climate events during Earth’s history.
“I think it would be very interesting if our spinel approach in the long run could provide empirical evidence for how asteroid showers in the inner solar system correlate with the onset of ice ages,” said Birger Schmitz, a marine geologist at Lund University in Sweden.