Mineralogy and noble gas isotopes of micrometeorites collected from Antarctic snow

Ryuji Okazaki, Takaaki Noguchi, Shin-ichi Tsujimoto, Yu Tobimatsu, Tomoki Nakamura, Mitsuru Ebihara, Shoichi Itoh, Hiroko Nagahara, Shogo Tachibana, Kentaro Terada, Hikaru Yabuta

Earth, Planets and Space 2015, 67:90 (17 June 2015)



We have investigated seven micrometeorites (MMs) from Antarctic snow collected in 2003 and 2010 by means of electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, micro-Raman spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) observation, and noble-gas isotope analysis. Isotopic ratios of He and Ne indicate that the noble gases in these MMs are mostly of solar wind (SW). Based on the release patterns of SW 4 He, which should reflect the degree of heating during atmospheric entry, the seven MMs were classified into three types including two least heated, three moderately heated, and two severely heated MMs. The heating degrees are well correlated to their mineralogical features determined by TEM observation. One of the least heated MMs is composed of phyllosilicates, whereas the other consists of anhydrous minerals within which solar flare tracks were observed. The two severely heated MMs show clear evidence of atmospheric heating such as partial melt of the uppermost surface layer in one and abundant patches of dendritic magnetite and Si-rich glass within an olivine grain in the other. It is noteworthy that a moderately heated MM composed of a single crystal of olivine has a 3 He/ 4 He ratio of 8.44 × 10 −4 , which is higher than the SW value of 4.64 × 10 −4 , but does not show a cosmogenic 21 Ne signature such as 20 Ne/ 21 Ne/ 22 Ne = 12.83/0.0284/1. The isotopic compositions of He and Ne in this sample cannot be explained by mixing of a galactic cosmic ray (GCR)-produced component and SW gases. The high 3 He/ 4 He ratio without cosmogenic 21 Ne signature likely indicates the presence of a 3 He-enriched component derived from solar energetic particles.