The University of Arizona

The fall and recovery of the Tagish Lake meteorite

Alan R. Hildebrand, Phil J. A. McCausland, Peter G. Brown, Fred J. Longstaffe, Sam D. J. Russell, Edward Tagliaferri, John F. Wacker, Michael J. Mazur


The Tagish Lake C2 (ungrouped) carbonaceous chondrite fall of January 18, 2000, delivered 10 kg of one of the most primitive and physically weak meteorites yet studied. In this paper, we report the detailed circumstances of the fall and the recovery of all documented Tagish Lake fragments from a strewnfield at least 16 km long and 3 to 4 km wide. Nearly 1 kg of "pristine" meteorites were collected one week after the fall before new snow covered the strewnfield; the majority of the recovered mass was collected during the spring melt. Ground eyewitnesses and a variety of instrument-recorded observations of the Tagish Lake fireball provide a refined estimate of the fireball trajectory. From its calculated orbit and its similarity to the remotely sensed properties of the D- and P-class asteroids, the Tagish Lake carbonaceous chondrite apparently represents these outer belt asteroids. The cosmogenic nuclide results and modeled production indicate a prefall radius of 2.1-2.4 m (corresponding to 60-90 tons) consistent with the observed fireball energy release. The bulk oxygen-isotope compositions plot just below the terrestrial fractionation line (TFL), following a trend similar to the CM meteorite mixing line. The bulk density of the Tagish Lake material (1.64 ± 0.02 g/cm^3) is the same, within uncertainty, as the total bulk densities of several C-class and especially D- and P-class asteroids. The high microporosity of Tagish Lake samples (~40%) provides an obvious candidate material for the composition of low bulk density primitive asteroids.


carbonaceous chondrite Meteorites;Orbits;Meteorite fall;Fireballs

Full Text: