Project

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Traces of two recent cosmic events in terrestrial sediments

Applicant Meier Matthias
Number 154874
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Institut für Geochemie und Petrologie ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Geochemistry
Start/End 01.03.2015 - 28.02.2019
Approved amount 591'487.00
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All Disciplines (5)

Discipline
Geochemistry
Other disciplines of Earth Sciences
Geochronology
Geology
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Sciences

Keywords (8)

Meteorites; Deep sea samples; Supernovae; Interplanetary dust particles; Interstellar grains; Micrometeorites; Asteroids; Climate variations

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Die Entwicklung des Lebens auf der Erde hängt teilweise auch von Ereignissen ab, die ihre Ursache im Sonnensystem haben - man denke etwa an das Aussterben der Dinosaurier als Folge eines Asteroiden-Einschlags vor 65 Millionen Jahren. Darüber hinaus sind solche irdisch-kosmischen Zusammenhänge aber erst ansatzweise erforscht. In diesem Projekt suchen wir in passenden Sedimentgesteinen nach Partikeln von zwei kosmischen Ereignissen, eine Asteroidenkollision vor 8 Millionen Jahren und eine nahe Supernova-Explosion vor ca. 2.5 Millionen Jahren, die jeweils an wichtigen Übergängen der Evolution des Menschen stattfanden. Die Analyse dieser Partikel mit modernen Methoden wird uns ein besseres Verständnis dieser Ereignisse selbst sowie ihrer Auswirkungen auf das Leben auf der Erde erlauben.
Lay summary

Ziele des Forschungsprojektes: Die Suche nach Veritas

Vor 8 Mio Jahren zerbrach im Asteroidengürtels ein grosser Asteroid und bildete eine Trümmerwolke, die man heute als "Veritas-Familie" bezeichnet. In Sedimentgesteinen, die in genau jener Zeit abgelagert wurden, finden sich indirekte Indizien für die Ablagerung von kosmischem Staub aus diesem Ereignis (He-3-Überschüsse). Das Klima auf der Erde jener Zeit verändert sich kurz darauf, die ersten Menschenvorfahren entwickeln sich. Das Hauptziel dieses Projektes ist das Finden, Isolieren und Charakterisieren von Veritas-Staubkörnern. Durch den Einsatz von Sauerstoff- und Neon-Isotopenmessungen an diesen Körnern soll dann das Ursprungsmaterial und die genaue Ablagerungszeit charakterisiert werden, um einen globalen "Horizont" zu definieren, mit dem die Klimaveränderungen jener Zeit abgeglichen werden können. Das Projekt kann darüber hinaus als "günstige" Probenrückhol-Mission zu einem Veritas-Asteroiden angesehen werden.

Ein zweites Projekt, das von einer Doktorandin oder einem Doktoranden durchgeführt werden wird, sucht mit einem ähnlichem Ansatz nach Spuren einer nahen Supernova vor 2.5 Millionen Jahren. Auch dieses Ereignis fällt Schritten zur Menschwerdung zusammen.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Das Verstehen der Herkunft und Entwicklung des Menschen gehört zu den ältesten Fragen der Menschheit. Das bessere Verständnis der Geschichte der Erde wird Rückschlüsse auf die Häufigkeit und Wahrscheinlichkeit von Leben auf anderen Planeten ermöglichen. Die gefundenen Staubkörner des "Veritas"-Projektes werden darüber hinaus die ersten Staubkörner weltweit sein, die sich eindeutig einer bestimmten Asteroidenfamilie zuordnen lassen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 04.02.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
The micrometeorite flux to Earth during the Frasnian–Famennian transition reconstructed in the Coumiac GSSP section, France
Schmitz Birger, Feist Raimund, Meier Matthias M.M., Martin Ellinor, Heck Philipp R., Lenaz Davide, Topa Dan, Busemann Henner, Maden Colin, Plant Amy A., Terfelt Fredrik (2019), The micrometeorite flux to Earth during the Frasnian–Famennian transition reconstructed in the Coumiac GSSP section, France, in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 522, 234-243.
The Renchen L5-6 chondrite breccia – The first confirmed meteorite fall from Baden-Württemberg (Germany)
Bischoff Addi, Barrat Jean-Alix, Berndt Jasper, Borovicka Jiri, Burkhardt Christoph, Busemann Henner, Hakenmüller Janina, Heinlein Dieter, Hertzog Jasmine, Kaiser Jozef, Maden Colin, Meier Matthias M.M., Morino Précillia, Pack Andreas, Patzek Markus, Reitze Maximilian P., Rüfenacht Miriam, Schmitt-Kopplin Philippe, Schönbächler Maria, Spurný Pavel, Weber Iris, Wimmer Karl, Zikmund Tomas (2019), The Renchen L5-6 chondrite breccia – The first confirmed meteorite fall from Baden-Württemberg (Germany), in Geochemistry.
An Early Jurassic age for the Puchezh‐Katunki impact structure (Russia) based on 40 Ar/ 39 Ar data and palynology
Holm‐Alwmark S., Alwmark C., Ferrière L., Lindström S., Meier M. M. M., Scherstén A., Herrmann M., Masaitis V. L., Mashchak M. S., Naumov M. V., Jourdan F. (2019), An Early Jurassic age for the Puchezh‐Katunki impact structure (Russia) based on 40 Ar/ 39 Ar data and palynology, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, maps.13309-maps.13309.
The CM carbonaceous chondrite regolith Diepenveen
Langbroek Marco, Jenniskens Peter, Kriegsman Leo M., Nieuwenhuis Henk, De Kort Niek, Kuiper Jacob, Van Westrenen Wim, Zolensky Michael E., Ziegler Karen, Yin Qing‐Zhu, Sanborn Matthew E., Wimpenny Josh, Yamakawa Akane, De Vet Sebastiaan J., Meier Matthias M. M., Welten Kees C., Nishiizumi Kunihiko, Caffee Marc W., Burton Aaron S., Dworkin Jason P., Glavin Daniel P., Wu Qinghao, Zare Richard N., Ruf Alexander, et al. (2019), The CM carbonaceous chondrite regolith Diepenveen, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, maps.13297-maps.13297.
The Sariçiçek howardite fall in Turkey: Source crater of HED meteorites on Vesta and impact risk of Vestoids
Unsalan Ozan, Jenniskens Peter, Yin Qing‐Zhu, Kaygisiz Ersin, Albers Jim, Clark David L., Granvik Mikael, Demirkol Iskender, Erdogan Ibrahim Y., Bengu Aydin S., Özel Mehmet E., Terzioglu Zahide, Gi Nayeob, Brown Peter, Yalcinkaya Esref, Temel Tuğba, Prabhu Dinesh K., Robertson Darrel K., Boslough Mark, Ostrowski Daniel R., Kimberley Jamie, Er Selman, Rowland Douglas J., Bryson Kathryn L., et al. (2019), The Sariçiçek howardite fall in Turkey: Source crater of HED meteorites on Vesta and impact risk of Vestoids, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 54(5), 953-1008.
The Creston, California, meteorite fall and the origin of L chondrites
Jenniskens Peter, Utas Jason, Yin Qing‐Zhu, Matson Robert D., Fries Marc, Howell J. Andreas, Free Dwayne, Albers Jim, Devillepoix Hadrien, Bland Phil, Miller Aaron, Verish Robert, Garvie Laurence A. J., Zolensky Michael E., Ziegler Karen, Sanborn Matthew E., Verosub Kenneth L., Rowland Douglas J., Ostrowski Daniel R., Bryson Kathryn, Laubenstein Matthias, Zhou Qin, Li Qiu‐Li, Li Xian‐Hua, et al. (2019), The Creston, California, meteorite fall and the origin of L chondrites, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 54(4), 699-720.
Neon isotopes in individual presolar low-density graphite grains from the Orgueil meteorite
Heck Philipp R., Jadhav Manavi, Meier Matthias M. M., Maruoka Teruyuki, Amari Sachiko, Zinner Ernst K., Busemann Henner, Maden Colin, Gyngard Frank, Baur Heinrich, Wieler Rainer (2018), Neon isotopes in individual presolar low-density graphite grains from the Orgueil meteorite, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 53(11), 2327-2342.
High early solar activity inferred from helium and neon excesses in the oldest meteorite inclusions
Kööp L., Heck P. R., Busemann H., Davis A. M., Greer J., Maden C., Meier M. M. M., Wieler R. (2018), High early solar activity inferred from helium and neon excesses in the oldest meteorite inclusions, in Nature Astronomy, 2(9), 709-713.
Cosmic history and a candidate parent asteroid for the quasicrystal-bearing meteorite Khatyrka
Meier Matthias M. M., Bindi Luca, Heck Philipp R., Neander April I., Spring Nicole H., Riebe My E. I., Maden Colin, Baur Heinrich, Steinhardt Paul J., Wieler Rainer, Busemann Henner (2018), Cosmic history and a candidate parent asteroid for the quasicrystal-bearing meteorite Khatyrka, in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 490, 122-131.
Cosmogenic He and Ne in chondrules from clastic matrix and a lithic clast of Murchison: No pre-irradiation by the early sun
Riebe My E.I., Huber Liliane, Metzler Knut, Busemann Henner, Luginbuehl Stefanie M., Meier Matthias M.M., Maden Colin, Wieler Rainer (2017), Cosmogenic He and Ne in chondrules from clastic matrix and a lithic clast of Murchison: No pre-irradiation by the early sun, in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 213, 618-634.
The Stubenberg meteorite-An LL6 chondrite fragmental breccia recovered soon after precise prediction of the strewn field
Bischoff Addi, Barrat Jean-Alix, Bauer Kerstin, Burkhardt Christoph, Busemann Henner, Ebert Samuel, Gonsior Michael, Hakenmüller Janina, Haloda Jakub, Harries Dennis, Heinlein Dieter, Hiesinger Harald, Hochleitner Rupert, Hoffmann Viktor, Kaliwoda Melanie, Laubenstein Matthias, Maden Colin, Meier Matthias M. M., Morlok Andreas, Pack Andreas, Ruf Alexander, Schmitt-Kopplin Philippe, Schönbächler Maria, Steele Robert C. J., et al. (2017), The Stubenberg meteorite-An LL6 chondrite fragmental breccia recovered soon after precise prediction of the strewn field, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 52(8), 1683-1703.
Young asteroid mixing revealed in ordinary chondrites: The case of NWA 5764, a polymict LL breccia with L clasts
Gattacceca Jérome, Krzesińska Agata M., Marrocchi Yves, Meier Matthias M. M., Bourot-Denise Michèle, Lenssen Rob (2017), Young asteroid mixing revealed in ordinary chondrites: The case of NWA 5764, a polymict LL breccia with L clasts, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science.
Park Forest (L5) and the asteroidal source of shocked L chondrites
Meier Matthias M. M., Welten Kees C., Riebe My E. I., Caffee Marc W., Gritsevich Maria, Maden Colin, Busemann Henner (2017), Park Forest (L5) and the asteroidal source of shocked L chondrites, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 52(8), 1561-1576.
Annama H chondrite-Mineralogy, physical properties, cosmic ray exposure, and parent body history
Kohout Tomáš, Haloda Jakub, Halodová Patricie, Meier Matthias M. M., Maden Colin, Busemann Henner, Laubenstein Matthias, Caffee Marc. W., Welten Kees C., Hopp Jens, Trieloff Mario, Mahajan Ramakant R., Naik Sekhar, Trigo-Rodriguez Josep M., Moyano-Cambero Carles E., Oshtrakh Michael I., Maksimova Alevtina A., Chukin Andrey V., Semionkin Vladimir A., Karabanalov Maksim S., Felner Israel, Petrova Evgeniya V., Brusnitsyna Evgeniia V., Grokhovsky Victor I., et al. (2017), Annama H chondrite-Mineralogy, physical properties, cosmic ray exposure, and parent body history, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 52(8), 1525-1541.
A tale of clusters: no resolvable periodicity in the terrestrial impact cratering record
Meier Matthias M. M., Holm-Alwmark Sanna (2017), A tale of clusters: no resolvable periodicity in the terrestrial impact cratering record, in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 467(3), 2545-2551.
Mercury (Hg) in meteorites: Variations in abundance, thermal release profile, mass-dependent and mass-independent isotopic fractionation
Meier Matthias M.M., Cloquet Christophe, Marty Bernard (2016), Mercury (Hg) in meteorites: Variations in abundance, thermal release profile, mass-dependent and mass-independent isotopic fractionation, in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 182, 55-72.
Noble gases in 18 Martian meteorites and angrite Northwest Africa 7812-Exposure ages, trapped gases, and a re-evaluation of the evidence for solar cosmic ray-produced neon in shergottites and other achondrites
Wieler R., Huber L., Busemann H., Seiler S., Leya I., Maden C., Masarik J., Meier M. M. M., Nagao K., Trappitsch R., Irving A. J. (2016), Noble gases in 18 Martian meteorites and angrite Northwest Africa 7812-Exposure ages, trapped gases, and a re-evaluation of the evidence for solar cosmic ray-produced neon in shergottites and other achondrites, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 51(2), 407-428.
A comprehensive study of noble gases and nitrogen in “Hypatia”, a diamond-rich pebble from SW Egypt
Avice Guillaume, Meier Matthias M.M., Marty Bernard, Wieler Rainer, Kramers Jan D., Langenhorst Falko, Cartigny Pierre, Maden Colin, Zimmermann Laurent, Andreoli Marco A.G. (2015), A comprehensive study of noble gases and nitrogen in “Hypatia”, a diamond-rich pebble from SW Egypt, in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 432, 243-253.
Cosmogenic nuclides in the Košice meteorite: Experimental investigations and Monte Carlo simulations
Povinec Pavel P., Masarik Jozef, Sýkora Ivan, Kováčik Andrej, Beňo Juraj, Meier Matthias M. M., Wieler Rainer, Laubenstein Matthias, Porubčan Vladimir (2015), Cosmogenic nuclides in the Košice meteorite: Experimental investigations and Monte Carlo simulations, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 50(5), 880-892.
Annama H chondrite – mineralogy, physical properties, cosmic ray exposure, and parent body history
Kohout T., Haloda J., Halodová P., Meier M. M. M., Maden C., Busemann H., Laubenstein M., Caffee M. W., Welten K. C., Hopp J., Trieloff M., Mahajan R. R., Naik S., Trigo-Rodriguez J. M., Moyano-Cambero C. E., Oshtrakh M. I., Maksimova A. A., Chukin A. V., Semionkin V. A., Karabanalov M. S., Felner I., Petrova E. V., Brusnitsyna E. V., Grokhovsky V. I., et al., Annama H chondrite – mineralogy, physical properties, cosmic ray exposure, and parent body history, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science.
The Stubenberg meteorite – an LL6 chondrite fragmental breccia recovered soon after precise prediction of the strewn field
Bischoff A., Barrat J.-A., Bauer K., Burkhardt C., Busemann H., Ebert S., Gonsior M., Hakenmüller J., Haloda J., Harries D., Heinlein D., Hiesinger H., Hochleitner R., Hoffmann V., Kaliwoda M., Laubenstein M., Maden C., Meier M. M. M., Morlok A., Pack A., Ruf A., Schmitt-Kopplin P., Schönbächler M., Steele R. C. J., et al., The Stubenberg meteorite – an LL6 chondrite fragmental breccia recovered soon after precise prediction of the strewn field, in Meteoritics & Planetary Science.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Dr. Carl Alwmark / Lund University Sweden (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Yves Marrocchi, CRPG-CNRS Nancy France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Kees C. Welten / University of California in Berkeley United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Peter Hoppe / Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Dr. Fin Stuart / University of Glasgow Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Simon L. Grimm / Universität Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Ludovic Ferrière / Naturhistorisches Museum Wien Austria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Dr. Birger Schmitz / Lund University Sweden (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Winter School on Volatile Elements in the Solar System (at Ecole de Physique, Les Houches, F) Talk given at a conference Noble Gases in the Solar System 11.03.2018 Les Houches, France Meier Matthias;
AGU Fall Meeting Poster The Miocene Extraterrestrial Dust Depositon Event Tracked by Helium, Neon, Chromium and Extraterrestrial Insoluble Organic Mater at the Monte Dei Corvi Beach secton 11.12.2017 New Orleans, United States of America Meier Matthias;
Paneth Kolloquium Nördlingen 2017 Individual talk A tale of clusters – asteroid impacts on Earth happen (almost) at random 11.10.2017 Nördlingen, Germany Meier Matthias;
48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference Poster A Trace of Presolar Neon in Chromite from Equilibrated Ordinary Chondrites? 20.03.2017 Houston, United States of America Meier Matthias;
48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference Poster Solar Wind Noble Gases in Urban Micrometeorites: No Longer an Urban Myth 20.03.2017 Houston, United States of America Plant Amy Alexandra; Meier Matthias;
48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference Poster Meteoriteorbits.info - tracking all known meteorites with photographic orbits 20.03.2017 Houston, United States of America Meier Matthias;
Lund Seminar on Impact Cratering Talk given at a conference A tale of clusters: no resolvable periodicity in the terrestrial impact cratering record 01.12.2016 Lund, Sweden Meier Matthias;
14th Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2016 Talk given at a conference Meteorites and micrometeorites from sediments – identification & characterization using noble gases 19.11.2016 Genf, Switzerland Meier Matthias;
Cosmochat (Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology, ETH Zurich) Individual talk Exoplanets - how we finally learned that planets are common 27.10.2016 Zürich, Switzerland Meier Matthias;
79th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society Talk given at a conference Do we have meteorites from the Veritas asteroid break-up 8 Ma ago? 08.08.2016 Berlin, Germany Meier Matthias;
79th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society Talk given at a conference Constraining the age of the Veritas asteroid break-up event with 3He from the Tortonian Monte dei Corvi section in Italy 08.08.2016 Berlin, Germany Meier Matthias;
Research Proposal Defense Amy Plant Individual talk Cosmic Dust in a Deep Sea Crust 26.05.2016 Zürich, Switzerland Plant Amy Alexandra;
47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference Poster Cosmic-Ray Exposure and Shock Degassing Ages of the Quasicrystal-Bearing Khatyrka Meteorite 16.03.2016 Houston, United States of America Meier Matthias;
47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference Poster Two Alternative Scenarios to Explain the Strange Extraterrestrial Spinel Grain Record of the Late Eocene 16.03.2016 Houston, United States of America Meier Matthias;
Cosmochat (Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology, ETH Zurich) Individual talk Basic Orbital Mechanics and the Delivery of Meteorites 11.02.2016 Zürich, Switzerland Meier Matthias;
Paneth Kolloquium Nördlingen 2015 Talk given at a conference Did Hg from the Chicxulub impactor contribute to the K-Pg extinction? 11.11.2015 Nördlingen, Germany Meier Matthias; Plant Amy Alexandra;
Goldschmidt Conference 2015 Talk given at a conference Hg isotopes at the K-Pg boundary 16.08.2015 Prag, Czech Republic Meier Matthias;
78th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society Talk given at a conference Shedding Light on the Origin of the Quasicrystal-bearing Khatyrka Meteorite 27.07.2015 Berkeley, CA, United States of America Meier Matthias;
78th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society Poster Making Sense of Mercury Isotopic and Abundance Variations in Meteorites 27.07.2015 Berkeley, CA, United States of America Meier Matthias;
46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference Talk given at a conference Towards Mercury (Hg) cosmochemistry: Variable contributions of supernova-derived Hg, or mass-independent fractionation by photodegradation? 16.03.2015 Houston, TX, United States of America Meier Matthias;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Expedition Sonnensystem / focusTerra, ETH Zurich German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Talks/events/exhibitions Der Weltraum - Energielieferant der Zukunft? International 2017
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Erde wird zufällig bombardiert ETH News German-speaking Switzerland International 2017
Talks/events/exhibitions Jahrestagung der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft St. Gallen: Wie die Erde zu ihrem Mond kam German-speaking Switzerland 2017
Talks/events/exhibitions Vortrag in der Primarschule Heimat-Buchwald, St. Gallen: Asteroiden und Meteoriten German-speaking Switzerland 2017
Talks/events/exhibitions Cool-Tur Kinder-Ferienkurs (zusammen mit ETH Focus Terra): Im Meteoriten-Labor German-speaking Switzerland 2016
Talks/events/exhibitions Extraterrestrischer Bergbau - reale Aufgabe oder Science Fiction? International 2016
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Rohstoffe aus dem Weltraum ETH Zukunftsblog German-speaking Switzerland 2016
Talks/events/exhibitions Rohstoffe im Weltraum: Illusion oder Zukunftsperspektive? German-speaking Switzerland 2016

Awards

Title Year
Paul Niggli Medallie der Schweizerischen Mineralogischen und Petrologischen Gesellschaft 2016

Abstract

Eight million years ago, a 150km-sized "C-type" asteroid was destroyed by a collision. At about the same time, the Earth's climate changed, leading to the evolution of the great apes, predecessors to humans. Tell-tale signs of an increased influx of extraterrestrial dust, followed by climatic changes, have been found in terrestrial deep sea sediments deposited at the time. In this project, I will dissolve highly condensed Tortonian sediments from central Italy to recover extraterrestrial dust grains from that collision. This "poor man's sample return mission" to a C-type asteroid will make it possible to identify and characterize the material making up the disrupted asteroid (using noble gas, SIMS and TIMS analysis), and will also allow to date the collision within a few millennia. This in turn will make it possible to investigate more thoroughly the previously suggested connections between the asteroid break-up and the first steps toward the evolution of humans.A second project, to be carried out by a PhD candidate student, will investigate the origin of a peak of radioactive Iron-60 found at about 2.5 million years in ferromanganese crusts from the deep sea. Both a near-by supernova origin, and an increased influx of extraterrestrial matter have been suggested as an explanation of the sudden appearance of the Iron-60. The student will search the crust for micrometeorites and study them using noble gas analysis (in order to confirm, or exclude, the micrometeorite origin of the Iron-60 peak). This will be followed by a search for interstellar grains in the crust, using a NanoSIMS instrument.
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