We present for the first time a detailed report on the discovery of a new meteorite collection region in the Lut Desert, eastern–southeastern Iran, describing its geological, morphological, and climatic setting. Our search campaigns, alongside with the activity of meteorite hunters, yielded >200 meteorite finds. Here, we report on their classification, spatial distribution, and terrestrial weathering. All the collected meteorites are ordinary chondrites (OCs). The most abundant by far are the highly weathered paired H5 distributed in the northwest of Kalut area (central Lut, Kerman dense collection area). The second are well-preserved paired L5 also found in Kalut region. A detailed study of the geochemistry and mineralogy of selected meteorites reveals significant effects of terrestrial weathering. Fe,Ni metal (hereafter simply metal) and troilite are transformed into Fe oxyhydroxides. A rather unusual type of troilite weathering to pyrite/marcasite is observed in most of the Lut Desert meteorites. Magnetic measurements and X-ray diffractometry confirm the occurrence of terrestrial weathering products, with the dominance of maghemite, goethite, and hematite. Mobile elements, such as Li, Sr, Mo, Ba, Tl, Th, and U, are enriched with respect to fresh falls. Meanwhile, a decrease in the V, Cr, Co, Rb (and possibly Fe) due to terrestrial weathering is detectable. The total carbon and CaCO3 is higher than in samples from other hot deserts. The weathering effects observed in the Lut Desert OCs can be used as distinctive indicators to distinguish them from meteorites from other regions of the Earth. Measurements of terrestrial age (14C) show a range of 10–30 ka, which is in the range of ages reported for meteorites from other hot deserts except the Atacama Desert (Chile). Considering the high potential of the Lut Desert in meteorite preservation, systematic works should lead to the discovery of more samples giving access to interesting material for future studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Space and Planetary Science