Cometary dust in Antarctic ice and snow: Past and present chondritic porous micrometeorites preserved on the Earth's surface

Takaaki Noguchi, Noriaki Ohashi, Shinichi Tsujimoto, Takuya Mitsunari, John P. Bradley, Tomoki Nakamura, Shoichi Toh, Thomas Stephan, Naoyoshi Iwata, Naoya Imae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Chondritic porous interplanetary dust particles (CP IDPs) collected in the stratosphere are regarded as possibly being cometary dust, and are therefore the most primitive solar system material that is currently available for analysis in laboratories. In this paper we report the discovery of more than 40 chondritic porous micrometeorites (CP MMs) in the surface snow and blue ice of Antarctica, which are indistinguishable from CP IDPs. The CP MMs are botryoidal aggregates, composed mainly of sub-micrometer-sized constituents. They contain two components that characterize them as CP IDPs: enstatite whiskers and GEMS (glass with embedded metal and sulfides). Enstatite whiskers appear as <2-μm-long acicular objects that are attached on, or protrude from the surface, and when included in the interior of the CP MMs are composed of a unit-cell scale mixture of clino- and ortho-enstatite, and elongated along the [100] direction. GEMS appear as 100-500 nm spheroidal objects containing <50 nm Fe-Ni metal and Fe sulfide. The CP MMs also contain low-iron-manganese-enriched (LIME) and low-iron-chromium-enriched (LICE) ferromagnesian silicates, kosmochlor (NaCrSi2O6)-rich high-Ca pyroxene, roedderite (K, Na)2Mg5Si12O30, and carbonaceous nanoglobules. These components have previously been discovered in primitive solar system materials such as the CP IDPs, matrices of primitive chondrites, phyllosilicate-rich MMs, ultracarbonaceous MMs, and cometary particles recovered from the 81P/Wild 2 comet. The most outstanding feature of these CP MMs is the presence of kosmochlor-rich high-Ca pyroxene and roedderite, which suggest that they have building blocks in common with CP IDPs and cometary dust particles and therefore suggest a possible cometary origin of both CP MMs and CP IDPs. It is therefore considered that CP MMs are CP IDPs that have fallen to Earth and have survived the terrestrial environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - Jan 5 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Cometary dust in Antarctic ice and snow: Past and present chondritic porous micrometeorites preserved on the Earth's surface'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this