Meteorite dating

To find evidence of older meteorites in a stable environment, Drouard and his colleagues turned to a collection of over 300 meteorites found in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

Thus, they must be fragments of larger asteroids whose interiors melted so that the heavier metals sank to the center and the lighter rocks rose to the surface.

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But both locations have drawbacks: Most deserts on Earth are only a few thousand years old, and meteorites that land on ice sheets are often transported and concentrated by glacial processes, making it difficult to determine how many meteors might have fallen in a given time period, a statistic known as the meteorite flux.

“We wanted to see how the meteorite flux to Earth changed over longer timescales, over millions of years,” says Drouard.

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