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Alien Mineral Discovery Points To An Unknown Meteorite Crash.

Geologists stumbled upon a previously undiscovered ancient meteorite impact, noticing the find when they detected minerals that came from outer space.

While looking around at volcanic rocks on the Isle of Skye, an island in northwestern Scotland, the scientists found rocks with those alien minerals. They figured out that the material was part of the ejecta of a meteorite impact - the stuff that was thrown outward when the space rock slammed into the Earth's surface - and that the collision could have been linked to volcanic activity that occurred soon afterward in the area.

According to the researchers, the meteorite would have crashed down about 60 million years ago - just a few million years after the asteroid impact linked to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous geological period.

"An extraterrestrial origin for these deposits is strongly supported" because a particular rare mineral called reidite, which is a form of zircon, is "only found naturally at sites of meteorite impact," their study in the journal (https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/gsa/geology/article/525169/discovery-of-a-meteoritic-ejecta-layer-containing) Geology explained.

The researchers specifically found two sites on Skye with suspected ejecta from that meteorite's crash, a little more than four miles apart from one another.

At first glance, the scientists thought what they found was a deposit from an Earth-based volcanic flow, the (http://www.geosociety.org/GSA/News/Releases/GSA/News/pr/2017/17-63.aspx) Geological Society of America said. But the minerals inside, including osbornite with high levels of the metallic elements vanadium and niobium, suggested otherwise.

"These mineral forms have never been reported on Earth," the society explained. "They have, however, been collected ... as space dust in the wake of the Wild 2 comet."

NASA collected samples of material from around that comet using its (https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/stardust/) Stardust space probe, which launched in 1999 and landed back here in 2006.

Osbornite is rarely found on Earth. The scientists are suggesting it was part of the meteorite that smacked into the planet.

The geologists still have to figure out where the meteorite landed.

They are also seeking to understand whether the impact was connected to volcanic activity that started up in the area at the same time.

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Dec 15, 2017
Words:375
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