Oxygen Isotopes in Refractory Stratospheric Dust Particles: Proof of Extraterrestrial Origin

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Science  18 Sep 1987:
Vol. 237, Issue 4821, pp. 1468-1471
DOI: 10.1126/science.237.4821.1468


The oxygen and magnesium isotopic compositions of five individual particles that were collected from the stratosphere and that bear refractory minerals were measured by secondary ion mass spectrometry. Four of the particles exhibit excesses of oxygen-16 similar to those observed in anhydrous mineral phases of carbonaceous chondrites and thus are extraterrestrial. The oxygen and magnesium isotopic abundances of one corundum-rich particle are consistent with a terrestrial origin. Magnesium in the four extraterrestrial particles is isotopically normal. It is unlikely that these particles are derived from carbonaceous chondrites and thus such particles probably represent a new type of collected extraterrestrial material.