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Survival of fossils under extreme shocks induced by hypervelocity impacts

Burchell, Mark J., McDermott, K. H., Price, M. C., Yolland, L. J. (2014) Survival of fossils under extreme shocks induced by hypervelocity impacts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 372 (2039). Article Number 20130190. ISSN 1364-503X. (doi:10.1098/rsta.2013.0190) (KAR id:43556)


Experimental data are shown for survival of fossilized diatoms undergoing shocks in the GPa range. The results were obtained from hypervelocity impact experiments which fired fossilized diatoms frozen in ice into water targets. After the shots, the material recovered from the target water was inspected for diatom fossils. Nine shots were carried out, at speeds from 0.388 to 5.34?km?s?1, corresponding to mean peak pressures of 0.2–19?GPa. In all cases, fragmented fossilized diatoms were recovered, but both the mean and the maximum fragment size decreased with increasing impact speed and hence peak pressure. Examples of intact diatoms were found after the impacts, even in some of the higher speed shots, but their frequency and size decreased significantly at the higher speeds. This is the first demonstration that fossils can survive and be transferred from projectile to target in hypervelocity impacts, implying that it is possible that, as suggested by other authors, terrestrial rocks ejected from the Earth by giant impacts from space, and which then strike the Moon, may successfully transfer terrestrial fossils to the Moon.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1098/rsta.2013.0190
Additional information: This is a gold open access paper and the full text is available free from the official URL
Uncontrolled keywords: diatoms;shock;hypervelocity;fossils;meteorites;Panspermia
Subjects: Q Science
Q Science > QB Astronomy
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Physics and Astronomy
Depositing User: Mark Burchell
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2014 14:02 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 14:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Burchell, Mark J..

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McDermott, K. H..

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Price, M. C..

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