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Extraterrestrial Remains or Plant Fossils?: The Scientific Discussion of Silicate Glasses Found in the Atacama Desert

Extraterrestrial Remains or Plant Fossils?: The Scientific Discussion of Silicate Glasses Found in the Atacama Desert

New research finds that dark silicate glass is scattered over a vast area of ​​the Atacama Desert

Chilean researchers again They analyzed 12,000-year-old silicate glass and found them scattered across a 75-kilometre strip in the Atacama Desert, Northern Chile. Experts concluded that the samples contained small fragments of minerals that are usually found in rocks of extraterrestrial origin, but may also correspond to plant fossils.

A study recently published in the journal geology, indicates that these minerals coincide with the composition of the matter returned to Earth by NASA’s Stardust mission, which sampled particles from Comet Wild 2. Therefore, a team of experts recently concluded that The minerals in the samples come from an extraterrestrial body, possibly a suspension, which exploded near the surface and melted its remains on the ground.

One of the participants in this study is Pete Schultz, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Brown University. The academic explained, “This is the first time that we have Clear evidence of glass on Earth created by heat and wind radiation from a fireball that exploded just above the surfaceAdding that “to have such a dramatic effect on such a large area, it was a really massive explosion.”

The study also included the Fernbank Science Center in Georgia, the University of Santo Tomas in Chile and the Chilean Geology and Mining Service, who Conducting chemical analyzes of dozens of samples taken from glass deposits in the region, It was collected in about 75 kilometers in the Atacama Desert to the east of the Pampa del Tamarogal, a plateau located between the Andes Mountains to the east and the Coast Mountains to the west.

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Experts have found minerals such as zircon that thermally decompose to form badlite, a metallic transition that occurs at temperatures above 1,650 degrees Celsius. “It is those minerals that tell us that this body bears all the signs of a comet.”said planetary geologist at Fernbank Science Center and study co-author Scott Harris. In his opinion, “Having the same minerals that we saw in the stardust samples that are in these vessels is really strong evidence that what we’re seeing is the result of a comet airburst.”

Various versions of silicate glass have been found in the Atacama Desert in Chile
Various versions of silicate glass have been found in the Atacama Desert in Chile

A different conclusion is the finding of the team, which was co-authored by an academic from the Department of Geosciences at the Universidad Católica del Norte and a researcher at the Millennium Institute of Astrophysics, Millarca Valenzuela. The expert explained to Infobae that “we took samples from the sites with a team of French experts in paleomagnetism, who study the magnetic field in different eras of the Earth, because the minerals are oriented with respect to where the magnetic north is at that time. They grew up. This is a very strong criterion. We have conducted This analysis and we dated the sediments that were directly under the glass with carbon 14 and our hypothesis was also that they were explosions in the air of extraterrestrial material, but The external assumption went to our buckets of the data obtained“.

“The explanation we find is very earthly.”

The researcher explained that “when we saw the data they gave about the magnetic north that these rocks associated with these magnetic minerals contained, they were divided into two groups, such as Two events at different times, and specifically influences from outside will not occur in the same place, the same event and with the same effect, and concluded that “the glasses were formed at different times, so we had to reject this hypothesis and search for a new solution to its origin.”

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What they found was “layers of a type of plant that has a lot of silica, and that almost all of these glass bumps were connected to places that were wet at the time, we’re talking about 12,000 years ago, so they were places with plants and where the fires likely originated.” On the site and that burned in this kind of plants that contain a high amount of silica, which is what glass contains, that is, it would have contributed to the generation of these glass as a result of this formation of places with plants and fires that cannot be controlled.The fact is that the explanation we find for it It is very earthly.” add that The other team’s conclusion is based on the fact that they “found materials that are related to meteorites but not unique to them.such as platinum, chromium, nickel or iron.

Valenzuela explained, “We did the analysis in three large deposits and did all of these measurements to assess the behavior of the samples in general, which immediately split into two groups of time and magnetic domain, which finally tells you that There is a difference of two thousand years or so between some deposits and others, which is completely contrary to the hypothesis that it was an event of influence“.

The expert noted that both studies “observed the same effects associated with date and temperature, just to name a few.” For them, things happen in a second And the cups were not only attached to these plant sediments, but also to the cooked earth, something like bricks fired as a result of the temperature of the clay soil, and that is not created in seconds“.

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He also explained that they “more than anything else base their evidence on very microscopic things and we have a more regional view.” The expert concluded that “our paper was published in 2017, and in their paper they spoke very little about our work, noting that” our group does not take into account that such high temperatures can affect the local magnetic field, but this is impossible if one compares the same ancient magnetic signal possessed by this cooked soil, according to which it is impossible to generate in seconds, which they attribute to the processes that occurred very instantaneously. over there There is still a lot to discuss and it’s fun to have a different view And the most likely thing is that we’ll meet at conferences and we’ll be able to debate, that’s science,” he said.

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