Abstract

We propose a new nondestructive method that uses the paleomagnetic record of micrometeorites in Earth's polar regions to constrain the age of their fall. During atmospheric entry, melted micrometeorites acquire a thermal remanent magnetization and record the polar subvertical geomagnetic field. When the fall vector can be determined, due to the location of bubbles, iron-nickel droplets, or grain-size gradients, it is possible to ascribe the fall to a normal or reverse polarity interval of the geomagnetic field. We tested this concept on a set of eight melted micrometeorites from the Transantarctic Mountains (Antarctica). Two micrometeorites have magnetization directions consistent with a normal polarity of the Earth's magnetic field, whereas four others have recorded a reverse polarity, and therefore fell to Earth at least 0.78 m.y. ago. One micrometeorite has a magnetization that is seemingly unrelated to the inferred entry direction. The fall direction could not be determined with certainty for one micrometeorite. These results provide new evidence suggesting that the Transantarctic Mountains micrometeorite traps are 1–2 m.y. old, and confirm that they contain the oldest non-fossil micrometeorites available.

You do not currently have access to this article.