Alien minerals unearthed at 60-million-year-old meteor strike site

Geologists working in Scotland have uncovered traces of extraterrestrial minerals
By Joseph Scalise | Dec 18, 2017
Geologists working at the site of a 60-million-year-old meteor strike have found minerals never before seen on Earth, according to astudy published in the journal Geology.

Researchers from the University of London uncovered the new findings while probing a thick layer of ancient lava flow on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. After some digging, they came across a strange-looking rock that was so unique they took it in for study.

"When we looked at the rock to start off with, it was very, very strange indeed," lead author Simon Drake, a research at the University of London, told Newsweek. "It looked completely out of place. We were staggered."

To get a better look at the odd formation, the team used electron microprobes to see what was inside. That revealed the presence of vanadium-rich and niobium-rich osbornite -- two minerals that do not come from Earth -- enclosed in native iron, which also does not come from our world. As a result, it is likely the rock originated elsewhere.

In 2004, NASA's stardust spacecraft uncovered vanadium-rich osbornite in the path of a comet. In the recent study, the team found the osbornite in the rock had not melted, which means it is likely a chunk of that 2004 meteorite. To add credence to that idea, scientists also foundreidite in the samples, which only occurs at the extreme pressures of a meteorite impact.

This new information is important because it could shed light on how the Isle of Skye came to be. The region is of interest to geologists because it came into existence during a period of extreme volcanic activity. However, the exact mechanisms behind that process are not known.

Now, the team in the study believesa meteorite impact may have helped create the region. They plans to follow up on that theory by analyzing the wider geological area around the Isle of Skye, including the North Atlantic Igneous Province that stretches all the way to Greenland.

"Whilst we can't say that the volcanological evolution of Skye was started by a meteorite, we think it was definitely a driver for that impact," said Drake, according toValuewalk.

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