Ordinary chondritic micrometeorites from the Indian Ocean

Shyam Prasad, M., Rudraswami, N. G., De Araujo, A., Babu, E. V. S. S. K. and Vijaya Kumar, T. (2015)

Meteoritics & Planetary Science. doi: 10.1111/maps.12451


Extraterrestrial particulate materials on the Earth can originate in the form of collisional debris from the asteroid belt, cometary material, or as meteoroid ablation spherules. Signatures that link them to their parent bodies become obliterated if the frictional heating is severe during atmospheric entry. We investigated 481 micrometeorites isolated from ~300 kg of deep sea sediment, out of which 15 spherules appear to have retained signatures of their provenance, based on their textures, bulk chemical compositions, and relict grain compositions. Seven of these 15 spherules contain chromite grains whose compositions help in distinguishing subgroups within the ordinary chondrite sources. There are seven other spherules which comprise either entirely of dusty olivines or contain dusty olivines as relict grains. Two of these spherules appear to be chondrules from an unequilibrated ordinary chondrite. In addition, a porphyritic olivine pyroxene (POP) chondrule-like spherule is also recovered. The bulk chemical composition of all the spherules, in combination with trace elements, the chromite composition, and presence of dusty olivines suggest an ordinary chondritic source. These micrometeorites have undergone minimal frictional heating during their passage through the atmosphere and have retained these features. These micrometeorites therefore also imply there is a significant contribution from ordinary chondritic sources to the micrometeorite flux on the Earth.