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Nanodiamond-Rich Layer across Three Continents Consistent with Major Cosmic Impact at 12,800 Cal BP

Kinzie, Charles R. and Que Hee, Shane S. and Stich, Adrienne and Tague, Kevin A. and Mercer, Chris and Razink, Joshua J. and Kennett, Douglas J. and DeCarli, Paul S. and Bunch, Ted E. and Wittke, James H. and Israde-Alcántara, Isabel and Bischoff, James L. and Goodyear, Albert C. and Tankersley, Kenneth B. and Kimbel, David R. and Culleton, Brendan J. and Erlandson, Jon M. and Stafford, Thomas W. and Kloosterman, Johan B. and Moore, Andrew M. T. (2014) Nanodiamond-Rich Layer across Three Continents Consistent with Major Cosmic Impact at 12,800 Cal BP. Journal of Geology, 122 (5). pp. 475-505. ISSN 1537-5269


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Publisher’s or external URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/677046


A major cosmic-impact event has been proposed at the onset of the Younger Dryas (YD) cooling episode at ≈12,800 ± 150 years before present, forming the YD Boundary (YDB) layer, distributed over >50 million km2 on four continents. In 24 dated stratigraphic sections in 10 countries of the Northern Hemisphere, the YDB layer contains a clearly defined abundance peak in nanodiamonds (NDs), a major cosmic-impact proxy. Observed ND polytypes include cubic diamonds, lonsdaleite-like crystals, and diamond-like carbon nanoparticles, called n-diamond and i-carbon. The ND abundances in bulk YDB sediments ranged up to ≈500 ppb (mean: 200 ppb) and that in carbon spherules up to ≈3700 ppb (mean: ≈750 ppb); 138 of 205 sediment samples (67%) contained no detectable NDs. Isotopic evidence indicates that YDB NDs were produced from terrestrial carbon, as with other impact diamonds, and were not derived from the impactor itself. The YDB layer is also marked by abundance peaks in other impact-related proxies, including cosmic-impact spherules, carbon spherules (some containing NDs), iridium, osmium, platinum, charcoal, aciniform carbon (soot), and high-temperature melt-glass. This contribution reviews the debate about the presence, abundance, and origin of the concentration peak in YDB NDs. We describe an updated protocol for the extraction and concentration of NDs from sediment, carbon spherules, and ice, and we describe the basis for identification and classification of YDB ND polytypes, using nine analytical approaches. The large body of evidence now obtained about YDB NDs is strongly consistent with an origin by cosmic impact at ≈12,800 cal BP and is inconsistent with formation of YDB NDs by natural terrestrial processes, including wildfires, anthropogenesis, and/or influx of cosmic dust.

Item Type: Article
ID number or DOI: 10.1086/677046
Keywords: Younger Dryas; cosmic-impact; YDB layer; nanodiamonds;
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Department/Unit: College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Science > School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 19:05
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/892

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