The Ar-Ar age and petrology of Miller Range 05029: Evidence for a large impact in the very early solar system



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 46, Issue 2, 337, Article first published online: 24 February 2011

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Abstract– Miller Range (MIL) 05029 is a slowly cooled melt rock with metal/sulfide depletion and an Ar-Ar age of 4517 ± 11 Ma. Oxygen isotopes and mineral composition indicate that it is an L chondrite impact melt, and a well-equilibrated igneous rock texture with a lack of clasts favors a melt pool over a melt dike as its probable depositional setting. A metallographic cooling rate of approximately 14 °C Ma−1 indicates that the impact occurred at least approximately 20 Ma before the Ar-Ar closure age of 4517 Ma, possibly even shortly after accretion of its parent body. A metal grain with a Widmanstätten-like pattern further substantiates slow cooling. The formation age of MIL 05029 is at least as old as the Ar-Ar age of unshocked L and H chondrites, indicating that endogenous metamorphism on the parent asteroid was still ongoing at the time of impact. Its metallographic cooling rate of approximately 14 °C Ma−1 is similar to that typical for L6 chondrites, suggesting a collisional event on the L chondrite asteroid that produced impact melt at a minimum depth of 5–12 km. The inferred minimum crater diameter of 25–60 km may have shattered the 100–200 km diameter L chondrite asteroid. Therefore, MIL 05029 could record the timing and petrogenetic setting for the observed lack of correlation of cooling rates with metamorphic grades in many L chondrites.