May 1, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Meteorites Shock Plant Material in Time Capsules

Bits of organic matter, leaves, and cells have been preserved in glass shocked by meteor impacts.  Could they last millions of years?

In Geology, a scientist from Brown University with three colleagues reports finding glass spherules containing organic plant material:

Impact cratering can destroy life from local to global scales and result in sudden turnovers of dominant genera and/or species. Here we report that it can also preserve components of the local biology present at the time of impact. We have investigated floral matter encapsulated within Cenozoic Era impact glasses produced by separate bolide impacts into the loessoid sediments of Argentina that occurred between 9.2 Ma (Miocene) and 6 ka (Holocene). The encapsulation preserved not only macro-scale morphological biosignatures such as vascular bundles, veins, phytoliths, and papillae, but also structures down to the cellular level. In the best-preserved samples we also found evidence for organic matter. While fossilization typically occurs over an extended time period as minerals slowly replace organic matter and the host rock lithifies under pressure, the process documented here is instantaneous.

A press release from Brown University, titled “Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years,” claims that at least 7 impacts have occurred in the study area in Argentina between the 6,000 and 9 million year dates.  “These glasses preserve plant morphology from macro features all the way down to the micron scale,” lead author and Brown U. geologist Pete Schultz said. “It’s really remarkable.”

The team found “Bundles of vein-like structures found in several samples are very similar to modern pampas grass, a species common to that region of Argentina.”   Schultz likened the preservation process to deep-frying: “The outside fries up quickly but the inside takes much longer to cook,” he explained.  Yes, but even then, the inside gets hot.

The BBC News added more information, such as quoting Schultz that “sensitive chemicals” were preserved in the glass.  If the material is from multiple impacts, there were too many events in that area (about the size of Texas) by a factor of three, according to models.

After explaining the findings, the paper and the press release both launched into pure speculation, adding that if this process can preserve living material on Earth, it might have done it on Mars, too.  Schultz got titillated by the thought.  “Impact glass may be where the 4 billion-year-old signs of life are hiding,” Schultz said. “On Mars they’re probably not going to come out screaming in the form of a plant, but we may find traces of organic compounds, which would be really exciting.”

Someone get radiocarbon dates on this!  How come the secular scientists never think of that?  The moyboy dates are imposed on the data, not extracted from the data.  Anyone see any evolution in the 9 million imaginary years?  The same pampas grass is found living in that area today.  Nine million years is plenty of time for Darwin to work his magic.  If a chimp became a man in just 6 million imaginary Darwin years, a plant would have plenty of time to grow legs or a brain.


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