• The first large meteorite impact structure discovered in the Middle East: Jebel Waqf as Suwwan, Jordan

      Salameh, E.; Khoury, H.; Reimold, W. U.; Schneider, W. (The Meteoritical Society, 2008-01-01)
      Triggered by re-evaluation of a 1960s report on the regional geology of the northeastern border region of Jordan and following Landsat satellite image investigation, a 5.5 km diameter, complex, circular structure was discovered in the central eastern region of the Kingdom of Jordan. Initial ground truthing revealed complex geological structures involving Upper Cretaceous and Paleogene strata, and including a prominent outer rim rising up to 60 m above the surrounding plain, an intermediate ring of up to 20 m elevation within a ring syncline, and a central zone of stratigraphically uplifted sedimentary strata characterized by intense macroscopic (folding and faulting, widespread cataclasis) and locally mesoscopic (cataclasis) deformation. Ten sites with shatter cone development in fine-grained sandstone or limestone have been mapped to date, mostly in the outer parts of the central uplifted area. This finding confirms that the Jebel Waqf as Suwwan structure was formed as the result of the impact of an extraterrestrial projectile. Search for impactdiagnostic micro-deformation has been rather unsuccessful: only 1 quartz grain with both planar deformation features and planar fractures has been detected in a sandstone sample to date. The overall majority of the approximately 70 samples investigated by micropetrographic analysis consist of extremely fine-grained chert, siltstone, or marly limestone. Cataclasis is widespread in chert and limestone, also on the micro-scale. Considering the severely limited amount of characteristic impact microdeformation, and the stratigraphic situation within the central uplift, it is likely that a relatively deep level of the central uplift is currently exposed. The extensive drainage demonstrated for this region supports the conclusion that this impact structure could be quite deeply erodedespecially as its geology involves some relatively soft lithologies (marls, limestones). The age of this impact event is at present poorly constrained at post-Middle to Lower Eocene.