Springwater

August's Meteorite of the Month is Springwater, a pallasite (PMG-an) found in Saskatchewan, Canada.

In August of 1931, Harvey H. Nininger received the first of several masses of the Springwater meteorite from citizens of Springwater, Saskatchewan, which is approximately 100 miles west of the city of Saskatoon. He later described the meteorite in American Mineralogist:

Nothing is known of the date of fall of this meteorite. It has evidently lain for many years in the soil. There is not, however, a heavy scale of oxide produced by weathering such as is common on Brenham and many other meteorites. Over much of the surface the original fusion crust is present and in a few places this crust remains unstained, showing clearly the flowage lines characteristic of fresh falls. Over most of the surface however it is completely discolored by a thin film of the products of weathering giving to the mass a rusty brown appearance.

Springwater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Close-up view of the pea-sized olivine inside the Springwater pallasite (image © ASU/CMS).

The first pallasite found in Canada, Springwater is known for its rounded olivine crystals, and is listed as the type occurrence (first described incidence) of the magnesium phosphate mineral Farringtonite (Mg3[PO4]2).

To date, over 119 kg (262 lb) of the Springwater pallasite have been recovered; in 2009, a piece weighing 53 kg (117 lb) was unearthed, and now resides at the Royal Ontario Museum.

The 18.6 kg (41 lb) Springwater specimen first acquired and described by H. H. Nininger in the early 1930s came to ASU in 1960 as part of the Nininger Meteorite Collection, the partial purchase of which enabled the founding of the ASU Center for Meteorite Studies.

 

Now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 Nininger Meteorite Award

The Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University is pleased to announce the application opportunity for the 2019-2020 Nininger Meteorite Award for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing research in meteoritical sciences!

The Nininger Meteorite Award recognizes outstanding student achievement in the meteoritical sciences as embodied by an original research paper; the recipient receives $2,000 and an engraved plaque commemorating the honor.

Previous Nininger Award Recipients
Previous Nininger Meteorite Award recipients. Clockwise from top right: Jonathan Lewis (2018), Emily Worsham (2017), François Tissot (2016), Roger Fu (2015).

Research topics covered under this description include, but are not limited to, physical and chemical properties of meteorites, origin of meteoritic material and cratering. Observational, experimental, statistical or theoretical investigations are allowed. Papers must cover original research conducted by the student and must have been written, submitted, or published between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020.

H. H. Nininger
H.H. Nininger (Photo copyright 1972, Paul S. Eriksson, Inc.)
The Nininger Meteorite Award application deadline is April 2, 2021.  Applicants must be the first, but not sole, author of the paper and must have enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an educational institution in the United States at the time the paper was written, submitted, or published. Note that papers do not need to be published in order to qualify for submission.

For more information, including application form, click here!

See a list of previous recipients, here!

 

 

 

Ramsdorf

July's Meteorite of the Month is Ramsdorf, an ordinary (L6) chondrite that fell in Germany, the evening of July 26, 1958.

According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 13):

The meteorite fell from a clear sky and neither light nor percussion phenomena were observed. The fall was accompanied by a noise similar to that of propeller; it started and stopped suddenly. Shortly afterwards children and young people discovered steam rising from a tube-shaped depres­sion in the ground. The following morning the depression was excavated and at a depth of 40 cm. the meteorite was discovered. The depression had an eastward direction and an incline angle of about 30° to the vertical. The children broke the meteorite into five parts which match each other, thus making it possible to reestablish the original shape of the meteorite; it is polyhedral with rounded ribs and regmaglipts visible in places.

Just over 10 lb (4.68 kg) of the Ramsdorf meteorite have been recovered.

Ramsdorf meteorite

Congratulations, Dr. Zack Torrano!

The Center for Meteorite Studies congratulates Dr. Zachary Torrano, who successfully defended his doctoral dissertation June, 30th!
 
Early Solar System Processes and Parent Body Relationships Recorded by Chromium and Titanium Isotopes in Meteorites
Meteorites and their components can be used to unravel the history of the early Solar System. Carbonaceous chondrites are meteorites that originated from undifferentiated parent bodies that formed within a few million years of the beginning of the Solar System. These meteorites contain calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs), which are the oldest dated solids in our Solar System at ~4.567 billion years old and thus preserve a record of the earliest stage of Solar System formation. The isotopic compositions of CAIs and bulk carbonaceous chondrites can be used to identify the sources of material inherited by our protoplanetary disk, assess the degree of mixing in the disk, and evaluate sample origins and potential genetic relationships between parent bodies. In particular, mass-independent Cr and Ti isotopic compositions have proven to be especially useful for these purposes.
 
In this wZachary Torranoork, Dr. Torrano first developed new methods for the chemical separation of Cr and Ti, improving the reliability of existing methods to ensure consistent yields and accurate isotopic measurements. He then measured the Cr and Ti isotopic compositions of CAIs from CV and CK chondrites to determine the extent of isotopic heterogeneity in the CAI-forming region and assess the role of CAIs in the preservation of planetary-scale isotopic anomalies. His results show that all measured CAIs originated from a common isotopic reservoir that incorporated material from at least three distinct nucleosynthetic sources and preserved limited isotopic heterogeneity. These results also suggest that planetary-scale isotopic anomalies cannot be attributed solely to the transport of CAIs from one part of the solar nebula to another. Dr. Torrano finally measured the Cr and Ti isotopic compositions of bulk CM, CO, and ungrouped chondrites to evaluate the relationship between CM and CO chondrites, which have been suggested to originate from either distinct but related parent bodies or a common compositionally heterogeneous parent body. The results suggest that CM, CO, and related ungrouped chondrites originated from distinct parent bodies that formed from similar precursor materials in nearby formation regions. These results may have implications for asteroid samples returned by the OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2 missions.

New paper on cosmochemistry advances from Antarctic meteorites!

School of Earth and Space Exploration Director Meenakshi Wadhwa, Center for Meteorite Studies Interim Director Devin Schrader, and Smithsonian Curator of Meteorites Tim McCoy are authors of a new paper published this month in the journal Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

The paper, Advances in Cosmochemistry Enabled by Antarctic Meteorites, details the many contributions to the fields of planetary science and cosmochemistry facilitated by the analysis of meteorites recovered from Antarctica, including the first identified lunar meteorite (Allan Hills A81005) and the first recognized martian meteorite (Elephant Moraine A79001).

SESE Director Meenakshi Wadhwa gets up close to a small treasure during her ANSMET field season.
To date, over 40,000 Antarctic meteorites have been recovered and classified, constituting the bulk of currently inventoried meteorites, and these planetary and asteroidal materials continue to provide new insights into the origin and evolution of our Solar System.

Read the full paper, here!See a full list of classified Antarctic meteorites, here!

Read about former Center Director Meenakshi Wadhwa's Antarctic meteorite field season, here!

Read about Center alumna Emilie Dunham's Antarctic meteorite field season, here!

Apply for the 2019-2020 Nininger Meteorite Award!

The Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University is pleased to announce the application opportunity for the 2019-2020 Nininger Meteorite Award for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing research in meteoritical sciences!

The Nininger Meteorite Award recognizes outstanding student achievement in the meteoritical sciences as embodied by an original research paper; the recipient receives $2,000 and an engraved plaque commemorating the honor.

Previous Nininger Award Recipients
Previous Nininger Award recipients. Clockwise from top right: Jonathan Lewis (2018), Emily Worsham (2017), François Tissot (2016), Roger Fu (2015).

Research topics covered under this description include, but are not limited to, physical and chemical properties of meteorites, origin of meteoritic material and cratering. Observational, experimental, statistical or theoretical investigations are allowed. Papers must cover original research conducted by the student and must have been written, submitted, or published between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020.

H. H. Nininger
H.H. Nininger (Photo copyright 1972, Paul S. Eriksson, Inc.)
The Nininger Meteorite Award application deadline is April 2, 2021.  Applicants must be the first, but not sole, author of the paper and must have enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an educational institution in the United States at the time the paper was written, submitted, or published. Note that papers do not need to be published in order to qualify for submission.

For more information, including application form, click here!

See a list of previous recipients, here!

 

 

NWA 725

June's Meteorite of the Month is Northwest Africa 725 (NWA 725), an acapulcoite achondrite found in Morocco.

As defined by the Meteoritical Society, members of the acapulcoite-lodranite group of meteorites are equigranular primitive achondrites that show subchondritic compositions, with mineral assemblages similar to, but distinct from, ordinary chondrites. Acapulcoites are finer grained than lodranites and some rare members contain relict chondrules. Based on their bulk composition and broadly chondritic mineralogy, acapulcoite-lodranite meteorites likely formed as the result of partial melting of a chondritic precursor.

Center Assistant Research Scientist Dr. Jemma Davidson and Center Interim Director Dr. Devin Schrader are co-authors of a recent paper on the origins of the acapulcoite-lodranite family – click here to learn more!

Photo by L. Garvie and © ASU/CMS.

NWA 725

ASU grad understands the importance of science communication

Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration and Center for Meteorite Studies graduate student Emilie Dunham will be receiving her PhD in geological sciences this May.

Antarctic meteorite collection
Emilie Dunham on a meteorite hunting trip in Antarctica with the 2019–2020 ANSMET (Case Western Reserve University project funded by NASA's Planetary Defense program and supported by the US Antarctic Program) displaying a meteorite that the team found in Antarctica on a glacier. Photo credit: Lauren Angotti/ANSMET.
Among her many achievements, Dunham was recently selected for a 51 Pegasi b Fellowship in Planetary Astronomy, which provides exceptional postdoctoral scientists with the opportunity to conduct theoretical, observational, and experimental research in planetary astronomy. Dunham will be hosted by the University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences and will be studying the heritage of meteorites to develop a timeline for planet formation and other early solar system events.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I realized that I wanted to study meteorites during a class called "Planetary Materials" during my junior year of college at Case Western Reserve University. In this class, we learned about, touched and studied a huge range of meteorite samples — I couldn't get enough and pursued this field in graduate school. I felt and still feel that meteoritics falls at the perfect intersection of my astronomy, planetary science and geology passions.

ETD SIMS
Emilie Dunham measuring the composition of meteorites using the secondary ion mass spectrometer at ASU.
Photo credit: Emilie Dunham/ASU[/caption]Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: Other than learning how to survive in 120 degree Arizona dry heat, I am continuing to learn about the importance of science communication and how it can positively affect those you engage with.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I was very excited to attend and be a part of the Center for Meteorite Studies in the School of Earth and Space Exploration because of the opportunity to work with my adviser, Professor Mini Wadhwa, the expansive meteorite collection and incredible community.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: My advice is to find and practice other passions in life that exist outside of school and research. For me, running has always been a necessary outlet and helps me approach a work-life balance. 

Dunham SIMS
Dunham using the secondary ion mass spectrometer at UCLA. Photo courtesy Heising-Simons Foundation.
Photo courtesy Heising-Simons Foundation[/caption]Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: The Center for Meteorite Studies suite and meteorite vault in ISTB4. Being surrounded by meteorites and a great research community inspires me to ask big questions about how the Solar System formed.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I will be working at UCLA as a 51 Pegasi b postdoctoral fellow. I get to continue studying meteorites and discovering the secrets of solar system formation!

Karin Valentine
Media Relations & Marketing manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration

 

This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.

 

Zhob

Zhob is an ordinary (H3-4) chondrite, that fell the evening of January 9, 2020, near Baluchistan, Pakistan. Zhob was recently classified by ASU Center for Meteorite Studies Curator Laurence Garvie.

According to the Meteoritical Bulletin (MB 109):
 
A bright fireball followed by sonic booms was seen and heard around the northern part of the Baluchistan province of Pakistan, approximately 6:30 pm local time on 9 January 2020. Shortly thereafter, a stone fell through a house in a local village of the Mando Khel tribal area ~12 km NE of Zhob, Zhob District, Baluchistan province, Pakistan. The largest stone was found shortly after the fall by goat herders. Two more stones were subsequently found in this area.
 
To date, four fusion-crusted stones have been found: 6.309, ~5.5, 4.924, and 2.231 kg. The stones are blocky to rounded, with broad shallow regmaglypts, and covered with black matte fusion crust. The 6.309 kg stone is broken, exposing ~15 × 9 cm of the interior, which displays a breccia of rounded to sub-rounded, light-colored clasts in a light-gray matrix. The clasts range from 1 cm to 5 × 4 cm. The stone is easy to break and weakly consolidated. The measured density of a 24 g fragment that contains both the lithologies is 3.18 g/cm3.
 
The exposed surface of the 6.309 kg stone has an earthy luster, with scattered small (<1 mm) chondrules and rare troilite fragments to 4 mm. No shock veins are visible.
 
Zhob meteorite
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo by Laurence Garvie and ©CMS/ASU.
 

Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Jemma Davidson

Get to know Center researchers with this new periodic feature!

Dr. Jemma Davidson is an Assistant Research Scientist in the ASU Center for Meteorite Studies (CMS) and School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE). Her research focuses on the petrology and isotope chemistry of a wide variety of planetary materials, including interplanetary dust particles, meteorites from Mars, the Moon, and the asteroid belt, and samples of lava flows collected on Earth.

Dr. Jemma DavidsonDavidson knew she was destined for a scientific career when she studied geology at high school. The enthusiasm and encouragement of a teacher (shout out to Mr. Finn!) convinced her that studying geology was a legitimate career for a kid from a council estate.

During her undergraduate studies at Durham University in the north of England, she realized that she didn’t just want to study rocks – she wanted to study rocks from space. Even though her Earth Science department didn’t have a planetary science component she convinced her Master’s adviser to help her set up a research project working on lunar samples returned from the Moon by the Apollo 15 and 17 missions.

That was the first time I’d ever held anything extraterrestrial. While I worked on those samples they went everywhere with me – I didn’t let them out of my sight. Then each night, after locking them away and leaving the lab, I’d look up at Moon and it would blow my mind that I could see where those samples had been collected by astronauts before I was even born. I was hooked.

After graduating with a first class M.Sci. degree from Durham University in 2006, she switched focus from the Moon to even more exotic material that predates our own Solar System.

During my last year of undergraduate study, while I was working on the Apollo samples, I wrote a research paper about presolar grains in meteorites. I had literally never heard of them before but they instantly won me over.

Presolar grains are tiny, microscopic pieces of dust that form when dying stars either explode (in the case of novae and supernovae) or start to expand and slough off material that condenses as it cools. They are literally pieces of dead stars that we can study in the lab.

It’s pretty amazing to think that some meteorites preserve what are essentially fossil pieces of stars that lived and died before our Solar System even existed.

Dr. Jemma DavidsonThe types of meteorites presolar grains are found in – chondrites – are sources of constant surprises. In fact, last year Davidson was involved in a study led by Dr. Larry Nittler of the Carnegie Institution of Science that identified a cometary building block preserved inside a meteorite from an asteroid, nick-named the cosmic turducken by mainstream media.

After obtaining her PhD for her presolar grain studies from The Open University in 2009, Davidson moved to the US to start a string of postdoctoral positions that would take her from the University of Arizona where she worked on the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and the Carnegie Institution of Science in Washington D.C. before she ultimately found a home as a Sun Devil at ASU in 2018.

Throughout her career, Davidson has jumped at the opportunity to work on many different types of extraterrestrial – and even terrestrial – materials.

I joke that my scientific career has Jekyll and Hyde style personalities – one side of me studies the earliest-formed Solar System materials (the really primitive stuff that hasn’t been altered since it formed 4.5 billion years ago) while the other side is interested in planetary magmatism, which occurred after large planetary bodies formed and differentiated, and represents the later stages of planetary body evolution. But there’s a common thread that runs through all my research – what materials were present at the start of our Solar System? What was destroyed? What survived? And how did this material evolve to its current state?

Answering questions like those opens up a host of research opportunities; as a cosmochemist and petrologist, Davidson has a skill set ideally suited to working on a whole variety of sample types. Over the last couple of years, Davidson has been working with SESE Director (and former CMS Director) Dr. Meenakshi (Mini) Wadhwa on meteorites from Mars and terrestrial analogs.

Mini offered me the opportunity to fill what I saw as a gap in my knowledge; a deep understanding of samples formed in large planetary-scale systems. Until then I’d mostly studied material from comets and asteroids, not planets. Studying meteorites from Mars – including the famous NWA 7034 (aka Black Beauty) – allowed me to transfer the skills I’d honed for the analysis of chondrites and IDPs and really sink my teeth into planetary-scale processes.

Davidson NWA7034
Dr. Jemma Davidson holds a piece of NWA 7034, a martian polymict-breccia.
Davidson’s recent work has concentrated on tracing magmatic volatiles (specifically the isotopic nature and abundance of hydrogen) in minerals in martian meteorites. By performing coordinated hydrogen isotope and concentration analyses, this research aims to determine the source and timing of water in the terrestrial planets, trace how this water evolved, and further our understanding of magmatic processes on different planetary bodies. Davidson will soon extend these analyses to a suite of lava samples from Iceland.

As anyone who visits CMS will know, my office is currently teeming with Icelandic basalts and I’ll take any excuse to show them to people; they’re gorgeous but they also provide a very important way for us to understand processes occurring on Mars. We have field context for the Icelandic basalts – we know where they were collected in relation to one another and that allows us to trace the behavior of water within a suite of samples and between suites that experienced different geologic processes. We don’t know exactly where on Mars the martian meteorites came from but the Icelandic basalts provide great analogs for martian samples and will allow us to put data from those samples into context.

Davidson looks forward to the day when samples will be brought back from Mars. In the meantime, she continues to split her research focus between early Solar System materials and planetary-scale magmatic volatiles studies.

For her contributions to planetary science and the OSIRIS-REx mission, Davidson had an asteroid named after her; you can find her namesake, 117595 Jemmadavidson (2005 EG62), in the asteroid belt.

To learn more about Dr. Davidson’s research, click here!

 
In the news:
 
Recent publications

Davidson J., Schrader D. L., Alexander C. M. O’D., Nittler L. R., and Bowden R. (2019) Re-examining thermal metamorphism of the Renazzo-like (CR) carbonaceous chondrites: Insights from pristine Miller Range 090657 and shock-heated Graves Nunataks 06100. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 267: 240–256.

Davidson J., Alexander C. M. O’D., Stroud R. M., Busemann H., and Nittler L. R. (2019) Mineralogy and petrology of Dominion Range 08006: A very primitive CO3 carbonaceous chondrite. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 265: 259–278.

McCoy T. J., Corrigan C. M., Dickinson T. L., Benedix G. K., Schrader D. L., and Davidson J. (2019) Grove Mountains (GRV) 020043: Insights into acapulcoite-lodranite genesis from the most primitive member. Geochemistry 79(4): 125536.

Nittler L. R., Stroud R. M., Trigo-Rodríguez J. M., De Gregorio B. T., Alexander C. M. O’D., Davidson J., Moyano-Cambero C. E., and Tanbakouei S. (2019) A cometary building block in a primitive asteroidal meteorite. Nature Astronomy 3: 659–666.