L-chondrite asteroid breakup tied to Ordovician meteorite shower by multiple isochron 40Ar-39Ar dating
Radiochronometry of L chondritic meteorites yields a rough age estimate for a major collision in the asteroid belt about 500 Myr ago. Fossil meteorites from Sweden indicate a highly increased influx of extraterrestrial matter in the Middle Ordovician ∼480 Myr ago. An association with the L-chondrite parent body event was suggested, but a definite link is precluded by the lack of more precise radiometric ages. Suggested ages range between 450 ± 30 Myr and 520 ± 60 Myr, and can neither convincingly prove a single breakup event, nor constrain the delivery times of meteorites from the asteroid belt to Earth. Here we report the discovery of multiple 40Ar-39Ar isochrons in shocked L chondrites, particularly the regolith breccia Ghubara, that allow the separation of radiogenic argon from multiple excess argon components. This approach, applied to several L chondrites, yields an improved age value that indicates a single asteroid breakup event at 470 ± 6 Myr, fully consistent with a refined age estimate of the Middle Ordovician meteorite shower at 467.3 ± 1.6 Myr (according to A Geologic Time Scale 2004). Our results link these fossil meteorites directly to the L-chondrite asteroid destruction, rapidly transferred from the asteroid belt. The increased terrestrial meteorite influx most likely involved larger projectiles that contributed to an increase in the terrestrial cratering rate, which implies severe environmental stress.