Detection of a Meteoritic Component in Ivory Coast Tektites with Rhenium-Osmium Isotopes

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Science  30 Jul 1993:
Vol. 261, Issue 5121, pp. 595-598
DOI: 10.1126/science.261.5121.595


Measurement of rhenium (Re) and osmium (Os) concentrations and Os isotopic compositions in Ivory Coast tektites (natural glasses with upper crustal compositions that are ejected great distances during meteorite impact) and rocks from the inferred source crater, Lake Bosumtwi, Ghana, show that these tektites incorporate about 0.6 percent of a meteoritic component. Analysis of elemental abundances of noble metals alone gives equivocal results in the detection of meteoritic components because the target rocks already have relatively large amounts of noble metals. The Re-Os system is ideally suited for the study of meteorite impacts on old continental crust for three reasons. (i) The isotopic compositions of the target rocks and the meteoritic impactor are significantly different. (ii) Closed-system mixing of target rocks and meteorites is linear on Re-Os isochron diagrams, which thus permits identification of the loss of Re or Os. (iii) Osmium isotopic compositions are not likely to be altered during meteorite impact even if Re and Os are lost.