The Sutter’s Mill meteorite: Thermoluminescence data on thermal and metamorphic history

Sears, D. W. and Beauford, R.

Meteoritics & Planetary Science
Volume 49, Issue 11, pages 2047–2055, November 2014


A piece of the Sutter’s Mill meteorite, fragment SM2-1d, has been examined using thermoluminescence techniques to better understand its thermal and metamorphic history. The sample had very weak but easily measureable natural and induced thermoluminescence (TL) signals; the signal-to-noise ratio was better than 10. The natural TL was restricted to the high-temperature regions of the glow curve suggesting that the meteorite had been heated to approximately 300 °C within the time it takes for the TL signal to recover from a heating event, probably within the last 105 years. It is possible that this reflects heating during release from the parent body, close passage by the Sun, or heating during atmospheric passage. Of these three options, the least likely is the first, but the other possibilities are equally likely. It seems that temperatures of approximately 300 °C reached 5 or 6 mm into the meteorite, so that all but one of the small Sutter’s Mill stones have been heated. The Dhajala normalized induced TL signal for SM2-1d is comparable to that of type 3.0 chondrites and is unlike normal CM chondrites, the class it most closely resembles, which do not have detectable TL sensitivity. The shape of the induced TL curve is comparable to other low-type ordinary, CV, and CO chondrites, in that it has a broad hummocky structure, but does not resemble any of them in detail. This suggests that Sutter’s Mill is a unique, low-petrographic–type (3.0) chondrite.