Implications from chemical, structural and mineralogical studies of magnetic microspherules from around the lower younger dryas boundary (New Mexico, Usa)

Alexandre V. Andronikov, Irina E. Andronikova, Clayton W. Loehn, Barbara Lafuente, Jesse A M Ballenger, George T. Crawford, Dante Lauretta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Hollow magnetic microspherules from along the lower Younger Dryas boundary (c. 12.9 ka bp) in New Mexico (USA) were studied using scanning electron microscopy, electron probe microanalysis, X-ray diffraction, and laser-ablation inductively coupled-plasma mass spectrometry methods. The shell of the microspherules (10-15% of the spherule's diameter) displays dendritic surface textures, which are likely due to quenching during rapid cooling of molten material. Structurally, multiple single-magnetite crystals attached together form the bulk of the microspherules. Iron dominates the microspherules' composition (∼90% FeOtot), Mn is the second most abundant element (up to 0.4% MnO), Al is detected in low concentrations (2O3). Among the trace elements, the rare earth elements display slightly fractionated patterns with concentrations of 0.1-1.0× CI chondrite. The microspherules contain elevated concentrations of Ni relative to detrital magnetite (up to 435 ppm) and very low concentrations of Ti (down to 5 ppm). Chemical, structural and mineralogical features of the microspherules do not contradict the existing models of the formation during ablation while a meteoroid goes through the Earth's atmosphere. Elevated concentrations of the magnetic microspherules in sediments can be a stratigraphic marker for the lower Younger Dryas boundary in North America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGeografiska Annaler, Series A: Physical Geography
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2016



  • Magnetic microspherules
  • Trace elements
  • Younger Dryas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geography, Planning and Development

Cite this