60-Million-Year-Old Meteor Strike Uncovered on Remote Isle of Skye

By Samantha Mathewson

A remote island in Scotland bears traces of out-of-this-world minerals from a 60-million-year-old meteorite impact.

A team of geologists from Birkbeck, University of London was examining volcanic rocks on the remote Isle of Skye in Scotland when they uncovered rare minerals that have never before been found on Earth, according to a study that was published Dec. 12 in the journal GeoScienceWorld.

In the study, the team focused on a 3.3-foot-thick (1-meter) layer at the base of a 60-million-year-old lava flow deposit. Using an electron microprobe, which shoots electrons at samples and analyzes the X-rays the samples emit in response, the researchers found that rocks from the area contained rare minerals from space.

The mysterious mineral, vanadium-rich and niobium-rich osbornite, was previously only found in dust samples from space on the comet 81P/Wild 2, collected by NASA’s Stardust Comet Sample Return Mission.

“When we discovered what it was we were very surprised, and it was a bit of a shock because we were not expecting that,” study co-author Andy Beard, a lecturer in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Birkbeck, University of London, said in the statement.

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