Characteristics of the Sahara as a meteorite recovery surface

Maria Aboulahris, Hasnaa Chennaoui Aoudjehane, Pierre Rochette, Jérôme Gattacceca, A. J. Timothy Jull, Nejia Laridhi Ouazaa, Luigi Folco Svend Buhl

Meteoritics & Planetary Science


“We describe the geological, geomorphological, and paleoclimatic setting of the Sahara of North Africa in particular, focused on the main meteorite dense collection areas (DCA; Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya). We report on the outcome of several meteorite recovery field expeditions in Morocco and Tunisia since 2008, by car and by foot, that applied systematic search methods. The number of meteorites collected is 41 ordinary chondrites and one brachinite. The statistics of unpaired ordinary chondrites indicates that H chondrites are more abundant (21) than L chondrites (12), while LL chondrites are rare (2). Our meteorite density estimates for Tunisia and Morocco are in the order of magnitude of 1 met km−2. An estimate of the total maximum number of meteorites that could be recovered from the Sahara is 780,000 meteorites. We selected 23 meteorites from Aridal, Bou Kra, Bir Zar, and Tieret DCAs for 14C dating. The results show a wide range of terrestrial ages from 0.4 to more than 40 kyr with a majority of meteorites showing ages between 0.4 and 20 kyr. The weathering degree of these meteorites is ranges from minor (W1) to strong (W4). The highest weathering grades result from repeated oscillations between high and low humidity in the Sahara. However, there appears to be no correlation between weathering grade and terrestrial age of meteorites.”