A chondrite strewn field was found in east of Lop Nor, Xinjiang

LI, ShiJie; WANG, ShiJie; Leya, Ingo; Smith, Thomas; TANG, JunLin; WANG, Peng; ZENG, XiaoJia; LI, Yang (2017). A chondrite strewn field was found in east of Lop Nor, Xinjiang. Chinese science bulletin, 62(21), pp. 2407-2415. Science in China Press 10.1360/N972016-01450

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The meteorites are the most important extraterrestrial samples for understanding the formation and the evolution history of the solar system, although ~382 kg lunar samples and ~1500 asteroid mineral grains have been returned by human space exploration activities. The Northwest region of China, especially the Xinjiang, has a vast area of sandy deserts and Gobi Deserts. The lower annual rainfall and the dry climate of this region provide a good condition for meteorite preservation. In recent years, the number of recovered meteorites from the Gobi Deserts in Xinjiang increased significantly. The Sanfengshan area, located about 65 km east of Lop Nor, is one of the research regions. We first collected three ordinary chondrites in Sanfengshan area on October 9, 2013. Then, we carried out 11 meteorite search campaigns in this area. More than 130 meteorite fragments with a total mass over 160 kg have been recovered. The map of all collected Sanfengshan meteorites depicts a clearly 3 km×11 km elliptic strewn field. The sizes are sorted in the SE-NW-oriented ellipsoid of the strewn field, therefore indicating that the meteor entered the atmosphere from SE at a low angle relative to the ground. In this study, six meteorites(Tuya 002–007) from the Sanfengshan field have been measured using a Scios-FIB field emission scanning electron microscope(SEM), a JXA 8230 electron microprobe analysis(EMA), and a self-made noble gas mass spectrometer. Among all of the collected meteorites, Tuya 002 is the only one unusual sample, which doesn't show any fusion crust on its surface. We inferred that Tuya 002 is not paired with the other collected meteorites. The well-defined chondrule boundaries and heavy weathering grade, i.e. W3(the occurrence of large amounts of calcium sulfate in Tuya 002 indicates that it suffered a heavy terrestrial weathering) also support the conclusion that Tuya 002 is obviously different from the other meteorites collected in the Sanfengshan area. In addition to Tuya 002, all the meteorites collected in this region most likely originate from one single meteoric shower. These meteorites all belong to the L5 ordinary chondrite group, with a moderate shock stage of S2 and a heavy weathering grade of W3. The cosmic ray exposure age of Tuya 003(the representative meteorite of the Sanfenghshan meteoric shower) is 45.6±4.4 Ma. This indicates that the meteoroid that produced the Sanfengshan meteoric shower could be produced in the 45 Ma break-up event on L chondrite parent body. On the other hand, petrographic observations and noble gas measurements shown that Tuya 002 belongs to the L4 ordinary chondrite group. A rather lower CRE age relative to the Sanfengshan L5 chondrites of 17.0±4.1 Ma has been calculated. This also indicates that Tuya 002 is not paired with other L5 meteorites collected in the same strewn field. Our studies shown that the meteorites collected in Sanfengshan area consist of more than one meteorite fall. It includes the main L5 meteorite fall(produced the Sanfengshan L5 strewn field) and the L4 meteorite fall(represented by Tuya 002). This indicates that the Sanfengshan area is not a meteorite dense area. In recent years, several meteorite dense areas(e.g., Loulan Yizhi, Lop Nur, Argan, and Xingdi) have been gradually reported. The limited meteorite types found in such reported meteorite dense areas indicates that these regions are maybe not the real meteorite dense areas, but probably represents the meteorites strewn field. Therefore, it is necessary, in the future, to carry out detailed petrology, mineralogy, cosmic ray exposure age as well as terrestrial age measurements to identify the meteorite dense area in/around the Xinjiang.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Leya, Ingo and Smith, Thomas


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering
500 Science > 530 Physics




Science in China Press




Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

14 Dec 2017 08:51

Last Modified:

25 Oct 2019 13:50

Publisher DOI:






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