Determining chondritic impactor size from the marine osmium isotope record. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Decreases in the seawater 187Os/188Os ratio caused by the impact of a chondritic meteorite are indicative of projectile size, if the soluble fraction of osmium carried by the impacting body is known. Resulting diameter estimates of the Late Eocene and Cretaceous/Paleogene projectiles are within 50% of independent estimates derived from iridium data, assuming total vaporization and dissolution of osmium in seawater. The variations of 187Os/188Os and Os/Ir across the Late Eocene impact-event horizon support the main assumptions required to estimate the projectile diameter. Chondritic impacts as small as 2 kilometers in diameter should produce observable excursions in the marine osmium isotope record, suggesting that previously unrecognized impact events can be identified by this method.

publication date

  • April 11, 2008