Meteorites constrain the age of Antarctic ice at the Frontier Mountain blue ice field (northern Victoria Land)

L. Folco, K. C. Welten, A. J.T. Jull, K. Nishiizumi, A. Zeoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We show that meteorites can provide chronological constraints upon the age of the ice cropping out at the Frontier Mountain meteorite trap (Antarctica) when their terrestrial age is placed in a glaciological context. Amongst the over 700 meteorites found so far, Frontier Mountain (FRO) 84001, 99028, 93005 and 93054 were most likely not wind-drifted across the ice field, since their masses (772-1665 g) are much heavier than the local ∼ 200 g wind transport threshold. The four meteorites were found along a stretch of ice where a representative section of the Frontier Mountain blue ice crops out. Based on the bedding of englacial tephra layers, the structure of the ice along the section appears to be essentially an up-glacier dipping monocline. The 14C terrestrial age of FRO 8401, 99028 and 93005 are 13 ± 2, 21 ± 3 and 27 ± 2 ky, respectively; the 41Ca/36Cl age of FRO 93054 is 40 ± 10 ky. The terrestrial ages of the four meteorites increase from the top to the bottom layers of the monocline. This geographic distribution is best explained by delivery of meteorites at the ice surface through the "ice-flow model" (i.e., englacial transport from the snow accumulation zone and exhumation in the blue ice area through ablation) rather than direct fall. Since the effect of ablation in decoupling terrestrial ages of meteorites and the age of the ice on which they sit must have been minor (most likely ≤ 7 ky) based on the local ice dynamics, we conclude that the age of the bulk of the ice body currently under ablation at Frontier Mountain is up to ∼ 50 ky old. This result has implications on both the meteorite concentrations mechanism at Frontier Mountain and the regional ice dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-216
Number of pages8
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 15 2006


  • Antarctic meteorites
  • Antarctica
  • FRO 84001
  • FRO 93005
  • FRO 93054
  • FRO 99028
  • Frontier mountain
  • ice dynamics
  • terrestrial ages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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