The distribution of the desert meteorites in China and their classification

Yan Fan, Shijie Li, Shen Liu, Hao Peng, Guangming Song, Thomas Smith

Version of Record online: 07 February 2022


“In recent years, numerous meteorites have been collected in desert areas in northern and western China. We describe the environment of some deserts in this region, and the petrological and mineralogical characteristics of 49 of the recovered ordinary chondrites. They consist of 14 H chondrites, 33 L chondrites, and 2 LL chondrites. Of the 300 desert meteorites with approved names from deserts in China, there have been 287 ordinary chondrites, six iron meteorites, one CO3 chondrite, one diogenite, one ureilite, one brachinite, one eucrite, and one EL7 chondrite. Forty-two dense meteorite collection areas (DCAs) have been defined, mainly located in northern and western China. The meteorites collected are mainly from the Kumtag DCA, followed by the Alatage Mountain, Loulan Yizhi, Hami, and Lop Nur DCAs. After tentative pairing of the meteorites, we estimate that the ordinary chondrites account for 72% of the desert meteorites collected in China, with 63 H chondrites, 133 L chondrites, and 20 LL chondrites. This dominance of L chondrites contrasts with other deserts, which may result from the insufficient collection or bias in pairing of ordinary chondrites. The mass distribution of meteorites from different DCAs in China is consistent with that from DCAs in Africa. Based on the available information and the meteorite flux model proposed by previous studies, we suggest that the time over which meteorites have been accumulated in the southern Hami DCA might be >10 kyr. Therefore, the southern Hami region is currently the most suitable area for meteorite collection in China.”