Carpentaria Impact Spherule, 2007
Scanning electron photomicrograph; magnification approximately x70 at capture; post-capture digital colorization
Drexel University, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
The magnetite (iron oxide) microspherule visible in this photomicrograph provides evidence of twin comet impacts into northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria in the year 536 CE. This evidence is part of a controversial study indicating that there has been a higher rate of cosmic impacts since the last ice age than have been documented and that some have changed the course of human history. This little fragment was melted or vaporized and flung into the atmosphere during the impact, crackling in a “quench texture” from rapid cooling as it condensed and fell back to Earth. The 536 impacts contributed to severe global cooling for the next 18 months that led to famines, wars, major population migrations, the first emergence of the bubonic plague, and the beginning of the Dark Ages.
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