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.
- Magnetic microspherules
- Trace elements
- Younger Dryas
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development