How old are the planets?

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The geological history of differentiated asteroids - small "terrestrial planets", is recorded in achondrites - eucrites, angrites, ureilites, and in iron and stony-iron meteorites. Achondrites are igneous rocks of basaltic or ultramafic composition from asteroids that underwent melting and subsequent magma differentiation and crystallisation.

The purpose of this project is to determine precise timing of formation of achondrite parent asteroids using isotopic systems that record fractionation between volatile and refractory elements (e.g., initial Sr isotopic composition).

The student will study early geological history of asteroids: magmatism, thermal and impact-induced metamorphism, using U-Pb, 26Al-26Mg and 53Mn-53Cr isotope chronometers and a selection of high-precision and high-resolution mass spectrometry techniques. Precise and consistent dates obtained using a variety of isotopic chronometers on the best preserved meteorites will serve as the reference points for building a consistent time scale of our Solar System.

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