This article makes the case for a new class of meteorites, necessitating alternative solar system formation mechanisms. Elsewhere this alternative solar system history unifies a number of otherwise disparate terrestrial and solar system phenomena.
¶ Comet Encke and the Taurid meteor stream has been suggested as a possible debris stream of a much larger Kuiper belt object (KBO) that fragmented in the inner solar system in the last 20,000 to 30,000 years. The ‘Younger Dryas (YD) impact hypothesis’ suggests that one or more large chunks of the fragmented comet struck above the Laurentide ice sheet or airburst above it in the vicinity of the Great Lakes, 12,900 years ago.
¶ What follows is a hypothesis for the formation and composition of the YD KBO, particularly focusing on its suggested rocky-iron crust.
¶ Alternative planet and star formation mechanisms suggest that the hot classical KBO population formed from a siderophile-depleted reservoir with a 3-oxygen-isotope signature that lay on the ‘terrestrial fractionation line’. An alternative star formation mechanism formed a binary-Sun, whose binary components spiraled in to merge at 4,567 Ma in a luminous red nova (LRN). The LRN enveloped the solar system out to the classical Kuiper belt, driving off volatiles from the surface of KBOs and melted the remaining refractory surface material into a rocky-iron, siderophile-depleted crust, somewhat resembling industrial iron-furnace slag.
¶ An impact theory origin for the elliptically-shaped Carolina bays appeared in the early 1930s as a result of aerial photography. The long-axis alignments of the bays fostered a 2007 theory, suggesting they were formed by secondary impacts of large chunks of ice launched into ballistic trajectories from one or more primary bolide impacts on the Laurentide ice sheet, circa 12,900 B.P. About five hundred thousand Carolina bays are scattered along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and presumably a similar density impacted inland, but the inland secondary crating damage was comparatively slight and has mostly been visually erased.
¶ This hypothesis suggests that ballistic ice-sheet fragments scattered primary bolide material thousands of kilometers from the primary bolide impact in the Great Lakes Region, resulting in local super concentrations of comet-crust bolide material in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
¶ No crater has been positively identified for the one or more posited Younger Dryas (YD) impacts on the Laurentide ice sheet in the Great Lakes Region, circa 12,900 BP. And the absence of a primary impact crater reduces the likelihood of identifying primary bolide material, particularly if it belongs to a new class of meteorites that’s a radical departure from inner solar system asteroids and chondrites.
¶ There is, however, no shortage of spherules, exotic carbon, glass, nanodiamonds, and iridium and platinum enrichments in widely-distributed black mat deposits worldwide, attributed to the Younger Dryas, and in core samples from the Greenland ice sheet dated to the onset of the Younger Dryas. The leading proponents of the YD impact theory suggest that Comet Encke and the Taurid meteor stream are the residue of a much-larger KBO that presumably fragmented in the inner solar system in the last 35,000 years.
YD impact comet-crust overview:
¶ The igneous ‘comet-crust’ surface of the YD impact bolide is suggested to constitute a new class of meteorites from the classical Kuiper belt. These comet-crust meteorites are suggested to resemble iron-furnace slag in their siderophile-depleted igneous composition, but with the addition of millimeter- to centimeter-scale metallic-iron inclusions. The origin of the KBOs and their igneous crust is discussed in the following section, “Alternative solar system model:”.
¶ Suggested YD impact comet-crust meteorites were not distributed in a classical strewn field around a primary impact crater or craters. Instead, the bolide material was fortuitously preserved by impacting the relatively-compressible ice of the Laurentide ice sheet. The relative compressibility of water compared to silicates presumably caused the target ice to soar to thousands of Kelvins and
absorb the lion’s share of the kinetic energy of the impacting bolide, clamping the impact shock wave pressure below the melting point of silicates.
¶ In essence, the Laurentide ice sheet provided an endothermic target material that preserved much of the igneous crust of the comet in a pristine state.
¶ While the ice under the primary impact was vaporized, portions of the ice sheet immediately adjacent to ground zero may have been delaminated from the underlying bedrock by super-high pressure steam wedging itself under the ice sheet and lofting great chunks of ice into ballistic trajectories of thousands of kilometers. Carolina bays are suggested secondary impact craters of ballistic ice-sheet fragments, where most traces of concomitant inland impacts have been erased in the intervening 13,000 years.
¶ The comet crust in Southeastern Pennsylvania is suggested to have been delivered by secondary impacts of ice sheet fragments traveling at several kilometers per second. So the primary impact presumably embedded comet crust in the ice sheet surrounding ground zero, some of which launched into ballistic trajectories. But compared to the vast volume of ice sheet fragments launched into ballistic trajectories sufficient to create 500,000 Carolina bays along the Atlantic seaboard Gulf Coast―presumably with similar inland concentrations―and compared to the widespread distribution of Carolina bays across North America, the apparent super concentration of comet crust in Southeastern Pennsylvania may be rather closely constrained in volume and area by comparison.
¶ The impulse of secondary ballistic impacts of ice-sheet fragments on thin soil is suggested to fracture the target bedrock, occasionally resulting in discrete boulder fields, when impact-brecciated bedrock flowed downhill in debris flows on sloped terrain. (See section, YD IMPACT BOULDER FIELDS). And other areas littered with ‘young’ boulders, with relatively freshly-fractured surfaces exhibiting minimal weathering, could also be telegraphing secondary impact brecciation.
Alternative solar system model:
Symmetrical flip-flop fragmentation:
¶ An alternative star formation mechanism, designated ‘symmetrical flip-flop fragmentation’, is suggested to have ‘condensed’ a twin-binary pair of disk instability objects around a large brown-dwarf-mass prestellar/protostellar core, where the twin-binary disk instability (di) objects were much-more massive than the diminutive core. Orbital interplay progressively transferred kinetic energy and angular momentum from the massive twin-binary di object to the diminutive brown dwarf by the mechanism of equipartition, which evaporated the former core into a circumbinary orbit around the twin-binary di objects, as the di objects spiraled inward to conserve system kinetic/potential energy and angular momentum. And di objects evolved into our former binary-Sun.
Trifurcation and its primary debris disk:
¶ It’s well known that equipartition transfers orbital kinetic energy and angular momentum from more massive objects to less massive objects in close orbital encounters, which is the mass segregation mechanism that evaporates the least massive stars out of globular clusters, causing the most massive stars to sink inward to form a core. Equipartition is also suggested to transfer rotational energy and angular momentum from large to small objects in close orbital encounters, increasing their rotation rate, causing less-massive objects to ‘spin up’. Equipartition is suggested to have caused our former brown dwarf to spin up until it distorted into a bar-mode instability. Additional pumping of rotational energy caused the bar-mode instability to fragment into 3 components by ‘trifurcation’, where the twin bar-mode arms of the brown dwarf gravitationally pinched off into their own Roche spheres to form a twin-binary pair of super-Jupiters-mass objects in orbit around the diminutive residual core. First-generation trifurcation promotes second-generation trifurcation and etc., ultimately creating 4 trifurcation generations of twin-binary objects in our solar system;
– 1st gen. ― binary-Companion (with super-Jupiter-mass components)
– 2nd gen. ― Jupiter-Saturn
– 3rd gen. ― Uranus-Neptune
– 4th gen. ― Venus-Earth
¶ Trifurcation is presumably an inefficient process, causing a sizable percentage of the trifurcating core to evaporate or boil off. Presuming the trifurcating core was internally differentiated into an iron-nickel (siderophile) inner core, the evaporated material would have been siderophile depleted. Thus, four generations of trifurcation created a siderophile-depleted ‘trifurcation debris disk’ from the homogenous brown dwarf reservoir.
¶ And the trifurcation debris disk condensed siderophile-depleted Kuiper belt objects (KBOs), presumably by streaming instability, against Neptune’s outer 2:3 mean motion resonance.
Binary-Sun spiral-in merger luminous red nova (LRN), 4,567 Ma:
¶ Secular perturbation between former binary-Sun and former binary-Companion caused binary-Sun to spiral in and merge in at 4,567 Ma in a luminous red nova (LRN), which briefly created a plasma fireball that apparently engulfed the classical Kuiper belt, vaporizing volatiles from the surface of KBOs and melting the remaining refractory material into an igneous, siderophile-depletd rocky-iron crust.
¶ The red giant phase of (stellar-merger) luminous red nova LRN M85OT2006-1 would have reached far into the Kuiper belt, with a fireball estimated at R = 2.0 +.6-.4 x 10^4 R☉, and a peak luminosity of about 5 x 10^6 L☉. (Rau et. al. 2007) “Previously published line indices suggest that M85 has a mean stellar age of 1.6+/-0.3 Gyr. If this mean age is representative of the progenitor of M85 OT 2006-1, then we can further constrain its mass to be less than 2 M☉.” (Ofek et al. 2007) If the size of the less than 2 M☉ LRN M85OT2006-1 fireball was in the range of 74–121 AU (R = 2.0 +.6-.4 x 10^4 R☉), then it’s readily conceivable that our greater than 1 M☉ LRN fireball, at 4,567 Ma, should easily have scorched a preexisting Kuiper belt reservoir centered around 43 AU.
¶ The LRN quickly retreated, leaving a low-angular-momentum ‘LRN debris disk’ in the inner solar system, which ‘condensed’ rocky-iron asteroids, presumably by streaming instability against the Sun’s greatly expanded magnetic corotation radius, and later condensed chondrites by streaming instability against Jupiter’s strongest inner resonances, but the low angular momentum content of the LRN debris disk precluded forming a debris disk at the distance of the Kuiper belt.
Binary-Companion spiral-in merger, ~ 650 Ma:
¶ Almost 4 billion years later, the super-Jupiter components of binary-Companion spiraled in to merge at about 650 Ma in an asymmetrical merger explosion that gave the newly-merged Companion escape velocity from the Sun. The resulting ‘Companion-merger debris disk’, condensed a young (650 Ma), cold, classical KBO population against Neptune’s outer 2:3 resonance. And this Companion-merger debris disk also coated the old (> 4,567 Ma) hot, classical KBO population with a veneer of binary-Companion merger dust and ice that was not siderophile depleted. This late veneer is suggested to be the origin of most of the iridium and platinum found in YD black mats across North America and elsewhere, as well as the origin of the whitish cement-like coating on many suggested ‘YD impact comet-crust meteorites’.
See section, STARS, PLANETS, MOONS, MINOR PLANETS AND COMETS
YD comet crust characterization:
Gray igneous matrix with metallic-iron inclusions:
¶ Comet crust is highly variable with respect to specimen size, density, matrix to metallic iron ratio, void prevalence, void size, and surface texture. Specimen size ranges from millimeter- to centimeter-scale gravel up to igneous boulders a meter across. Metallic-iron specimens range in size from millimeter-scale inclusions within gray igneous matrix up to 100 kg masses of metallic iron, with little or no associated matrix material. Internal voids in gray igneous matrix range in size, and abundance from specimens with the appearance of volcanic scoria to specimens with a complete absence of voids.
Massive and nodular metallic iron:
¶ The shape of the iron inclusions and masses is particularly notable, with many bizarre 3 dimensional shapes having no flat top surface, as would be expected from metallic iron which had cooled from a molten state on our high-gravity planet.
¶ Metallic iron falls into several categories,
1) metallic iron inclusions completely surrounded by gray igneous matrix,
2) massive metallic iron, often with little or no associated igneous matrix, and
3) nodular metallic iron composed of nodular chucks that appear to be sintered together, with no igneous matrix.
¶ The most inexplicable phenomenon for an industrial slag interpretation on our high-gravity planet is the presence of centimeter-scale metallic-iron blebs suspended within the igneous matrix, where the metallic-iron density is about 2-1/2 times that of the surrounding matrix. By comparison, glassy iron furnace slag from historic Joanna furnace, PA contains zillions of microscopic iron spherules that are clearly evident in thin flakes, backlit under 40X magnification, with a distinct upper size limit.
Whitish, gritty, cement-like coating–reliable indicator of YD comet crust:
¶ Comet crust meteorites typically exhibit a whitish, gritty, cement-like coating that is suggested to be a residue of the 650 Ma Companion merger debris disk. While the KBO itself and the comet crust are suggested to be siderophile depleted, the cement-like coating should have started out with a roughly chondritic composition (not siderophile depleted), before being subjected to solar radiation in the inner solar system, atmospheric ablation traversing Earth’s atmosphere at interplanetary speed, and steam cleaning by ice sheet ice converted to super-high-temperature and -pressure steam at impact. The super-high temperature steam cleaning presumably dissolved away material remotely soluble in water and bleached the coating white.
¶ This whitish, cement-like coating is suggested to be one of the most reliable indicators of YD comet crust; however, its absence is not proof against membership. Iron furnace slag is often mixed with comet crust in the waste stream of historic iron furnaces, and the two contrasting materials can most readily differentiated by the presence or absence of a whitish cement-like coating. After years in streams or rivers, however, comet crust will have lost its cement-like coating, and freshly fractured surfaces may lack coating as well.
¶ Additionally, the cement-like coating contains variable concentrations of shiny black magnetic spherules, visually similar to spherules found at the bottom of the 12,900 year old (YD) black mat in North America and elsewhere, but curiously, the cement-like coating does not also contain transparent glassy spherules, which are also common at the bottom of the YD black mat. The presence of black magnetic spherules and absence of translucent, magnetic glassy spherules suggests that the black spherules are extraterrestrial, whereas translucent glassy spherules are tektites, formed at Earth impact.
¶ Finally, the cement-like coating apparently has a high calcium-carbonate content, causing it to fizz upon exposure to vinegar.
Massive high-density magnetite/hematite:
¶ Some comet-crust iron is in the metallic state, some presumably compounded into silicates, while some is oxidized in the form of comet-crust magnetite. Oddly, comet-crust magnetite is always found in discrete lumps, which are never molded together with metallic iron or gray igneous matrix material. Yet, comet-crust magnetite is generally peppered with the characteristic whitish cement-like coating.
¶ Comet-crust magnetite has an apparent industrial slag look alike, resembling early-iron-age bloomery slag, but the bloomery slag invariably has no whitish cement-like coating, telegraphing its terrestrial and likely industrial origin
Comet crust with one rounded surface:
¶ Many comet-crust specimens from Pottstown, PA are roughly triangular in cross section, with one rounded side, resembling a thick slice of pie. The rounded surface was presumably the outer surface of the KBO, which had been directly exposed to LRN plasma. The brief (circa 1 month) immersion of KBOs in LRN plasma caused significant volatile loss, accompanied by melting of the refractory residue into an igneous rocky-iron comet crust, resulting in considerable densification of the outer layer of the YD KBO.
¶ As the diameter of the KBO decreased due to vaporization and densification, the igneous KBO crust wrinkled like a grape, drying to form a raisin. Wrinkling is recorded in chunks of comet crust that once constituted the outer surface of the KBO, with wrinkling expressed in syncline-anticline undulations. The surviving surface specimens are typically fractured through the synclines, such that the anticlines are better preserved, with a typical 10–15 cm radius anticline curvature.
¶ The ~10–15 cm undulation radius was presumably the local wrinkling scale in the fully to partially molten state, but as the crust cooled and stiffened, it became increasingly brittle. After embrittlement, additional subsidence may have fractured the crust into tectonic plates, accompanied by reverse faulting, forcing one tectonic plate to ride up over its adjacent tectonic plate.
Absent to strongly vesicular:
¶ Suggested comet crust is often dismissed by meteorite experts due to the prevalence of vesicles, since vesicles are very uncommon in inner solar system meteorites. Some comet-crust specimens are so saturated with vesicles as to resemble terrestrial volcanic scoria, and presumably formed in a similar fashion, from pressurized outgassing through weak spots in the formerly molten surface of the YD KBO, while some comet crust exhibits no vesicles at all.
¶ Comet-crust meteorites make frequent appearances in meteorwrong writeups and meteorwrong image galleries, due to their high density, high metallic-iron content, and ferromagnetic attraction to a magnet. The Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, photo gallery of MeteorWrongs appears to include a number of comet-crust specimens, with the following entry numbers; 11, 16, 93, 109, 183, 223, 294, 298, 325.
Fusion crust, some with flow lines:
¶ Suggested fusion crust on comet-crust specimens varies in coloration from brown to jet black, where the black coloration is probably pristine, with brown coloration likely due to subsequent oxidation. Fusion crust is relatively rare, suggesting that most comet crust was physically protected from the ablative atmosphere during its entry through Earth’s atmosphere. Of small hand-sample-sized specimens exhibiting fusion crust, the fusion crust is frequently evident on all sides, whereas on larger (> 10 cm) specimens that fractured upon impact, the fractured surfaces contain no fusion crust. An industrial iron-furnace slag origin can not explain a fusion-crust-like remelted surface on all sides of small hand-sample-sized specimens.
¶ While fusion crust is easy to spot on rocky comet crust, iron exposed to atmospheric ablation forms regmaglypts rather than fusion crust; however, so far, no unambiguous regmaglypts have been found on metallic-iron specimens to date. Ablation may also cause regmaglypts/fusion crust on the surface of comet-crust magnetite, and in magnetite, there does appear to be some evidence of regmaglypts.
¶ Additionally, a couple fusion crust specimens appear to exhibit flow lines.
¶ A large volume of comet crust has been used to level a triangle of land just off Light Street, Conshohocken, PA (40.0807, -75.3127), readily identifiable on Google satellite due to the herbicide properties of granulated comet crust. The Conshohocken Area also exhibits numerous diabase boulders with sharp edges formed by catastrophic fracturing rather, rather than gradual weathering, suggesting brecciation by a secondary impact by an ice sheet fragment.
¶ Suggested comet-crust material in Conshohocken is variably mixed with iron furnace slag. In some cases, comet crust material was apparently melted (rather than smelted) for its metallic iron content to create brittle cast iron, since melting required much-lower technology and less energy than smelting iron ore. In the Conshohocken Area, brittle cast iron (suggested to have been derived from melting comet crust) was used to cast window-sash counter weights, with broken chunks of counter weights scattered along the west bank of the Schuylkill River in West Conshohocken.
¶ Remelted comet-crust slag often contains broken pieces of fire brick and lacks macroscopic metallic-iron inclusions, and tellingly, remelted comet crust slag also lacks the whitish, gritty cement-like coating of pristine comet crust. Remelted comet-crust can be discriminated from smelted iron-furnace slag due to its much-greater density, with the high density of remelted comet crust attributable to its considerable iron-oxide content.
¶ In Phoenixville, PA, a significant quantity of triangular pie-slice shaped comet-crust fragments
are mixed with a smaller quantity of industrial iron furnace slag from the nearby historic Phoenixville iron works. Here, the industrial slag appears to be of two types, low-density slag smelted in the primary Phoenixville iron works blast furnace, and high-density slag, in small adjunct furnaces melting comet crust for its metallic-iron content. The high incidence of surficial comet crust, with one rounded surface, in the waste stream is presumably because surficial comet crust invariably has a lower metallic-iron content than comet crust from further beneath the surface of the former KBO.
¶ The slag and comet-crust material has been tumbled into the French Creek ravine along the south bank, between N. Main St. and Ashland St. (40.135, -75.513), just east of the Phoenixville Foundry.
¶ As elsewhere, comet crust has been used as clean fill in the Harrisburg Area. Comet crust in combination with iron-furnace slag has been used to build what appears to be an abandoned road spur off Paxton Ave. between Paxton Ministries and Faulkner Honda (40.2545, -76.8505).
¶ Comet crust been used as clean fill on the East Shore of the Susquehanna River to extend residential parking on the river side of Front St. in Enola, PA, and the material has been spotted as far west as Wesley Dr. in Mechanicsburg, PA.
¶ A strong rare earth magnet is the only necessary prospecting tool for identifying potential comet crust in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
– Several comet crust samples were analyzed by INAA for iridium, including one analysis on a metallic-iron inclusion, but no iridium was found down to 5 ppb. INAA does not detect platinum, however, which is a prevalent YD black mat marker, and platinum was found in Greenland ice cores from 12,900 B.P. A recent understanding of hybrid nature comet-crust material suggests that the whitish cement-like coating should be analyzed for iridium and platinum.
– An old age determination (> 4.5 Ga) for comet crust would be the gold standard for a new class of siderophile-depleted meteorites which fails multiple other tests, such as, close association with the historic iron industry, low nickel to iron ratio, absence of iridium, igneous origin, and manifold internal voids.
Ofek, E. O.; Kulkarni, S. R.; Rau, A.; Cenko, S. B.; Peng, E. W.; Blakeslee, J. P.; Cote, P.; Ferrarese, L;. Jordan, A.; Mei, S.; Puzia, T.; Bradley, L. D.; Magee, D.; Bouwens, R., (2007), The Environment of M85 optical transient 2006-1: constraints on the progenitor age and mass, arXiv:0710.3192 [astro-ph]
Rau, A.; Kulkarni, S. R.; Ofek, E. O.; Yan, L., (2007), Spitzer Observations of the New Luminous Red Nova M85 OT2006-1, The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 659, Issue 2, pp. 1536-1540