Cavezzo, The Double Face Of A Meteorite (Planetary Science)

The Cavezzo meteorite, found on 4 January 2020 in the province of Modena, is a truly peculiar object, to the point of being awarded the classification of “anomalous ordinary chondrite”. And the smallest fragment is characterized by a totally unusual mineralogical association. It is the result of an international study led by the University of Florence and the National Institute of Astrophysics

A research team coordinated by Giovanni Pratesi of the Department of Earth Sciences of the University of Florence has concluded the characterization of the two fragments of the Cavezzo meteorite, which fell in Emilia Romagna on 1 January 2020 and was found a few days later thanks to the Prisma network (First network Italian for the systematic surveillance of meteors and the atmosphere), managed by the National Institute of Astrophysics (Inaf). In the analysis of the fragments, the researchers found peculiarities so relevant as to lead to the classification of the meteorite as “anomalous ordinary chondrite”.

“Chondrites”, explains Pratesi, professor of mineralogy and planetary geology, “are undifferentiated meteorites containing chondrules, small spherical objects that effectively testify to the history of the early stages of the formation of the solar system”.

In some cases these chondrules have undergone the effects of the metamorphism process, a mineralogical transformation caused by changes in temperature or pressure which, on asteroids, inevitably leads to their degradation. In other cases, however, the chondrules survived because, being in superficial portions of the asteroid’s body, they were not affected by this process.

“The Cavezzo meteorite is made up of two fragments that have completely different characteristics,” adds Pratesi. “The largest fragment is a classical ordinary chondrite belonging to the so-called L group – the second most common group of meteorites. In the smallest fragment, however, we find a completely new situation with respect to our knowledge. In fact, here there are well delineated chondrules that coexist, without solution of continuity, with an achondritic portion characterized by clear recrystallization. Moreover, the smallest fragment is characterized by a totally unusual mineralogical association. Basically, the smallest fragment may represent a hitherto unknown portion of the relative asteroids of ordinary chondrites ».

The study, conducted thanks to funding for research and education from the Crt Foundation – Cassa di Risparmio di Torino, was published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science . Scholars from the museum system of the Florentine University, the National Institute of Astrophysics, the University of Turin and the Open University in the United Kingdom also collaborated in the work.

The Prisma network, whose coordination is based at the Inaf headquarters in Turin and whose data are hosted and made available to the public by the Inaf research e-infrastructure project Ia2 (Italian Center for Astronomical Archives), sees the participation of many institutional and private subjects the complete list of which is available on the Prisma project website.

Featured image: Frammento della meteorite Cavezzo © INAF


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