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High noble metal concentrations in a late Pliocene sediment

Abstract

A 2.3-Myr-old layer in a sediment from the Antarctic Ocean contains Ir and Au at levels comparable with those at the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary. A sizable fraction of the noble metals is contained in vesicular, millimetre-sized poly-mineralic grains that closely resemble ablation debris from chondritic meteorites, and there is little doubt that the noble metals resulted from the accretion of a large extraterrestrial object. No massive extinctions or other evidence of environmental stress seem to be associated with this accretionary event.

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