CMS News

Allende 50th anniversary

February 8th marks the 50th anniversary of the Allende meteorite fall in Chihuahua, Mexico!

Quite possibly the most studied meteorite of all time (referenced in over 14,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers), Allende is a (CV3) carbonaceous chondrite known for its abundant calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions, which provide information on processes in the Early Solar System.  Allende also contains presolar grains, which predate the formation of the Earth, and even our Sun!

Clarke et al (1971) describes the meteorite fall in detail

"In the early morning of Saturday, 8 February 1969 (between 0105 and 0110 Central Standard Time), a brilliant fireball was observed over much of northern Mexico and adjacent areas of Texas and New Mexico. The most spectacular phenomena were centered around the city of Hidalgo del Parral in the south-central part of the state of Chihuahua. The fireball approached from the south-southwest, and as it neared its terminal point the brilliant light was accompanied by tremendous detonations and a strong air blast. Thousands of individual meteoritic stones rained down over a large area of rural Mexico. One weighing 15 kg fell within four meters of a house in the town of Pueblito de Allende, 35 km east of Parral. This stone was broken up, and pieces taken to the office of the newspaper "El Correo de Parral" the same day; the news of an important meteorite fall was published that evening."

The amount of material and size of the resulting strewnfield made Allende one of the largest recorded stony meteorite fall in history – to date, over 2 t of the Allende meteorite has been collected.

Photo: Allende meteorite drawer, L. Garvie/CMS/ASU.

Shortly after the meteorite fall, a mineral dealer from Mexico, known for bringing many interesting mineral samples to Arizona, arrived at the ASU Center for Meteorite Studies in a pickup truck with many Allende specimens. Soon, two Center graduate students were on their way to Chihuahua where, with the aid of local farmers, they were successful in retrieving some of the abundant Allende pieces.

Fortuitously, the first NASA Apollo sample return mission took place just months after the fall, and spurred the construction of special "clean" laboratories to contain any potential contamination from the lunar samples.  These clean laboratories proved the ideal environment for analyses of the newly fallen Allende meteorite, as they protected the space rocks from terrestrial contamination.

These analyses continue, five decades later, as the Allende meteorite continues to provide key insight into the early Solar System. In fact, for over 30 years, clean Allende powder has been used as a meteorite standard in laboratories around the world:

"At the time our work was undertaken in late 1969 there were several types of geological reference samples available that covered the compositional range of most common terrestrial materials … For meteorites, however, such a reference sample was not available, and terrestrial reference samples were not always suitable for comparison with the analyses of meteorites."

"The Allende, Mexico, meteorite fall … provided a solution to these problems.  The meteorite was a fresh fall available in large quantity.  Early work established that it was a rare Type III carbonaceous chondrite that contained very little metal and was easy to homogenize.  The availability of this meteorite led us to undertake the preparation and distribution of a meteoritic reference sample. An important additional stimulus was the need of the scientific community for a reference material for the analyses of returned lunar samples."

Jarosewich, E., R. S. Clarke, and J. N. Barrows (1987)
Allende Meteorite Reference Sample.
Smithsonian Contributions to the Earth Sciences. 1-49.

 

 

Photo: Center graduate student Daniel Dunlap in the Isotope Cosmochemistry and Geochronology Laboratory. Photo by L. Garvie/CMS/ASU.

Visit the ASU Center for Meteorite Studies to learn more about the Allende meteorite, and see pieces of this famous meteorite on display!

 

Apply by Feb 1 for the Nininger Meteorite Award

The Nininger Meteorite Award application deadline is February 1, 2019.

Applications for the 2018 Nininger Meteorite Award, for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing research in meteoritical sciences, are now being accepted!

The Nininger Meteorite Award recognizes outstanding student achievement in the meteoritical sciences as embodied by an original research paper.  Papers must cover original research conducted by the student and must have been written, submitted, or published between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018.  Applicants must be the first, but not sole, author of the paper and must have been studying at an educational institution in the United States at the time the paper was written, submitted, or published.

The Nininger Award recipient receives $1,000 and an engraved plaque commemorating the honor.

 

For more information, including application form, click here!

Apply for the 2018 Nininger Meteorite Award

Applications for the 2018 Nininger Meteorite Award, for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing research in meteoritical sciences, are now being accepted!
 
The Nininger Meteorite Award recognizes outstanding student achievement in the meteoritical sciences as embodied by an original research paper.  Papers must cover original research conducted by the student and must have been written, submitted, or published between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018. 
 
The Nininger Meteorite Award application deadline is January 19, 2019. Applicants must be the first, but not sole, author of the paper and must have been studying at an educational institution in the United States at the time the paper was written, submitted, or published.
 
The Nininger Award recipient receives $1,000 and an engraved plaque commemorating the honor.
 

2019 Nininger Student Travel Award

The application process for the 2019 Nininger Student Travel Award for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing research in meteoritics and planetary sciences, is now open!

The Nininger Student Travel Award supports travel to the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) of up to 4 School of Earth & Space Exploration undergraduate and graduate students to present their latest results.

For details on the award and application process, click here!

Student group classifies new meteorite

Through ASU's Sundial Project, a group of undergraduate students had the opportunity to work with Center Ph.D. Candidate Emilie Dunham and Collection Curator Dr. Laurence Garvie to classify a brand new achondrite meteorite.  The students used ASU's electron microprobe to analyze the meteorite's elemental composition, as well as to image the meteorite, and learned how to interpret the results to determine meteorite type. They then presented their results at the Sundial Science Conference, where they were awarded Best Presentation!

A 2015 find from Northwest Africa, the new achondrite has been classified as a lodranite, and is now approved by the Meteoritical Society as Northwest Africa 11970.

sundial_project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group photo, L to R: Anna Zaniewski (Leader, Sundial mentoring), Emilie Dunham, Tirzah Fougner, Teviyahn Goodwyn, and Elliot Smith. Not shown is Nicholas Delafuente.

new meteorite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newly classified meteorite, Northwest Africa 11970.

 

New paper by Center researchers

A new paper, published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, by Center Assistant Director Dr. Devin Schrader and Center Assistant Research Scientist Dr. Jemma Davidson constrains the background temperature of the protoplanetary disk in the first four million years of the Solar System!  Authored with Dr. Steve Desch (ASU) and Dr. Roger Fu (Harvard University), the paper, titled "The background temperature of the protoplanetary disk within the first four million years of the Solar System", also provides a new test parameter for chondrule formation models based on newly determined low-temperature chondrule cooling rates.

Read the paper here – free to download until November 19th!

Chondrules are rounded, silicate-rich particles, and are the namesake of the chondrite meteorites.  Chondrites are the most abundant type of stony meteorite, and contain some of the first solids to have formed in the Solar System, including calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions, and chondrules.

2019 Nininger Student Travel Award Application Open

The Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University is pleased to announce the application opportunity for the 2019 Nininger Student Travel Award for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing research in meteoritics and planetary sciences.

The Nininger Student Travel Award supports travel to the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) of up to 4 School of Earth & Space Exploration undergraduate and graduate students to present their latest results.

For details on the award and application process, click here!

2018 Nininger Meteorite Award Application Open

The Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University is pleased to announce the application opportunity for the 2018 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.  Papers must cover original research conducted by the student and must have been written, submitted, or published between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018. 
 
The 2017 Nininger Meteorite Award application deadline is January 19, 2019. Applicants must be the first, but not sole, author of the paper and must have been studying at an educational institution in the United States at the time the paper was written, submitted, or published.
 
The Nininger Award recipient receives $1,000 and an engraved plaque commemorating the honor.