The Frontier Mountain meteorite trap (Antarctica)

Luigi Folco, Alessandro Capra, Massimo Chiappini, Massimo Frezzotti, Marcello Mellini, Ignazio Ezio Tabacco

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26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Frontier Mountain blue ice field is an important Antarctic meteorite trap which has yielded 472 meteorite specimens since its discovery in 1984. Remote sensing analyses and field campaigns from 1993 to 1999 have furnished new glaciological data on ice flow, ice thickness, bedrock topography, ice ablation and surface mass transport by wind, along with detailed descriptions of the field situation at the trap. This solid set of data combined with an updated meteorite distribution map and terrestrial ages available from literature allows us to better describe the nature of the concentration mechanism. In particular, we observe that the meteorite trap forms in a blue ice field (1) located upstream of an absolute and a shallow sub-ice barriers; (2) characterized by compressive ice flow with horizontal velocities decreasing from 100 to <10 cm/year on approaching the obstacle; (3) undergoing mean ablation rates of 6.5 cm/year; (4) nourished by a limited snow accumulation zone extending ∼20 km upstream of the blue ice area. We also draw the following conclusions: (1) the origin of the meteorite trap can be explained according to the present-day glaciological situation; (2) the meteorite concentration develops according to the general principles of the "ice flow model"; (3) the accumulation model can be described as "stagnant ice or slow-moving ice against an absolute and submerged barriers", according to the descriptive schemes present in literature; (4) the Frontier Mountain ice field is an effective trap for meteorites weighing more than ∼200 g; for smaller masses, the combination of wind and glacial drift may remove meteorites in less than a few tens of thousands of years; (5) although the activation age of the Frontier Mountain trap is not yet constrained, we infer that one of the most important findsites may be as old as 50 ka, predating the last glacial maximum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209 - 228
Number of pages20
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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