• Impact-induced impoverishment and transformation of a sandstone habitat for lithophytic microorganisms

      Cockell, C. S.; Osinski, G. R. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      Sandstones are a common habitat for lithophytic microorganisms, including cryptoendoliths. We describe laboratory experiments on the colonization of impact metamorphosed sandstones from the Haughton impact structure, Canadian High Arctic. Colonization experiments with the coccoid cyanobacterium, Chroococcidiopsis sp. and the motile gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis, show that, in contrast to initially low porosity crystalline target rocks, which can become more porous as a result of impact bulking, by closing pore spaces the sedimentary cryptoendolithic habitat can be impoverished by impact. However, the heterogeneous distribution of collapsed pores, melt phases, and subsequent recrystallization, results in heterogeneous colonization patterns. Cavities and vesicles formed during melting can yield new habitats for both cryptoendoliths and chasmoendoliths, manifested in the natural cryptoendolithic colonization of shocked sandstones. By contrast, post-impact thermal annealing and recrystallization of impact melt phases destroys the cavities and vesicles. In extreme cases, complete recrystallization of the rock fabric makes the material suitable only for epilithic, and potentially hypolithic, colonists. These experiments further our understanding of the influence of the target lithology on the effects of asteroid and comet impacts on habitats for lithophytic microorganisms.
    • Erratum

      The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01
    • Coupled effects of impact and orogeny: Is the marine Lockne crater, Sweden, pristine?

      Kenkmann, T.; Kiebach, F.; Rosenau, M.; Raschke, U.; Pigowske, A.; Mittelhaus, K.; Eue, D. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      Our current understanding of marine-impact cratering processes is partly inferred from the geological structure of the Lockne crater. We present results of a mapping campaign and structural data indicating that this crater is not pristine. In the western part of the crater, pre-impact, impact, and post-impact rocks are incorporated in Caledonian thrust slices and are subjected to folding and faulting. A nappe outlier in the central crater depression is a relic of the Caledonian nappe cover that reached a thickness of more than 5 km. The overthrusted crater is gently deformed. Strike of strata and trend of fold axes deviate from standard Caledonian directions (northeast-southwest). Radially oriented crater depressions, which were previously regarded as marine resurge gullies formed when resurging seawater erosively cut through the crater brim, are interpreted to be open synclines in which resurge deposits were better preserved. The presence of the impact structure influenced orogenesis due to morphological and lithological anomalies of the crater: i) a raised crater brim zone acted as an obstacle during nappe propagation, (ii) the occurrence of a central crater depression caused downward sagging of nappes, and (iii) the lack of an appropriate detachment horizon (alum shale) within the crater led to an enhanced mechanical coupling and internal deformation of the nappe and the overthrusted foreland. Preliminary results of 3-Danalogue experiments suggest that a circular high-friction zone representing the crater locally hinders nappe propagation and initiates a circumferentially striking ramp fault that delineates the crater. Crustal shortening is also partitioned into the crater basement and decreases laterally outward. Deformation of the foreland affected the geometry of the detachment and could be associated with the activation of a deeper detachment horizon beneath the crater. Strain gradients both vertically and horizontally result in non-plane strain deformation in the vicinity of the crater. The strain tensors in the hanging and foot walls may deviate up to 90 degrees from each other and rotated by up to 45 degrees with respect to the standard regional orientation. The observed deflection of strata and fold axes within the Lockne crater area as revealed by field mapping is in agreement with the pattern of strain partitioning shown in the analogue models.
    • Post-impact structural crater modification due to sediment loading: An overlooked process

      Tsikalas, F.; Faleide, J. I. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      Post-impact crater morphology and structure modifications due to sediment loading are analyzed in detail and exemplified in five well-preserved impact craters: Mjølnir, Chesapeake Bay, Chicxulub, Montagnais, and Bosumtwi. The analysis demonstrates that the geometry and the structural and stratigraphic relations of post-impact strata provide information about the amplitude, the spatial distribution, and the mode of post-impact deformation. Reconstruction of the original morphology and structure for the Mjølnir, Chicxulub, and Bosumtwi craters demonstrates the long-term subsidence and differential compaction that takes place between the crater and the outside platform region, and laterally within the crater structure. At Mjølnir, the central high developed as a prominent feature during post-impact burial, the height of the peak ring was enhanced, and the cumulative throw on the rim faults was increased. The original Chicxulub crater exhibited considerably less prominent peakring and inner-ring/crater-rim features than the present crater. The original relief of the peak ring was on the order of 420-570 m (currently 535-575 m); the relief on the inner ring/crater rim was 300 450 m (currently ~700 m). The original Bosumtwi crater exhibited a central uplift/high whose structural relief increased during burial (current height 101-110 m, in contrast to the original height of 85-110 m), whereas the surrounding western part of the annular trough was subdued more that the eastern part, exhibiting original depths of 43-68 m (currently 46 m) and 49-55 m (currently 50 m), respectively. Furthermore, a quantitative model for the porosity change caused by the Chesapeake Bay impact was developed utilizing the modeled density distribution. The model shows that, compared with the surrounding platform, the porosity increased immediately after impact up to 8.5% in the collapsed and brecciated crater center (currently +6% due to post-impact compaction). In contrast, porosity decreased by 2-3% (currently -3 to -4.5% due to post-impact compaction) in the peak-ring region. The lateral variations in porosity at Chesapeake Bay crater are compatible with similar porosity variations at Mjølnir crater, and are considered to be responsible for the moderate Chesapeake Bay gravity signature (annular low of -8 mGal instead of -15 mGal). The analysis shows that the reconstructions and the long-term alterations due to post-impact burial are closely related to the impact-disturbed target-rock volume and a brecciated region of laterally varying thickness and depth varying physical properties. The study further shows that several crater morphological and structural parameters are prone to post-impact burial modification and are either exaggerated or subdued during post-impact burial. Preliminary correction factors are established based on the integrated reconstruction and post-impact deformation analysis. The crater morphological and structural parameters, corrected from post-impact loading and modification effects, can be used to better constrain cratering scaling law estimates and impact-related consequences.
    • Facies distribution of post-impact sediments in the Ordovician Lockne and Tvaren impact craters: Indications for unique impact-generated environments

      Frisk, Å. M.; Ormö, J. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      The Lockne and Tvären craters formed in the Late Ordovician Baltoscandian epicontinental sea. Both craters demonstrate similarities concerning near-synchronous age, target seabed, and succeeding resurge deposits; however, the water depths at the impact sites and the sizes of the craters were not alike. The post-impact sedimentary succession of carbonates, i.e., the Dalby Limestone, deposited on top of the resurge sediments in the two craters, is nevertheless similar. At least three main facies of the Dalby Limestone were established in the Lockne crater, depending on sea-floor topography, location with respect to the crater, and local water currents. The dominating nodular argillaceous facies, showing low values of inorganic carbon (IC), was distributed foremost in the deeper and quiet areas of the crater floor and depressions. At the crater rim, consisting of crushed crystalline basement ejecta, a rim facies with a reef-like fauna was established, most certainly due to topographical highs and substrate-derived nutrients. Between these facies are occurrences of a relatively thick-bedded calcilutite rich in cephalopods (cephalopod facies). In Tvären, the lower part of the succession consists of an analogous argillaceous facies, also showing similar low IC values as in Lockne, followed by calcareous mudstones with an increase of IC. Occasionally biocalcarenites with a distinctive fauna occur in the Tvären succession, probably originating as detritus from a facies developed on the rim. They are evident as peaks in IC and lows in organic carbon (Corg). The fauna in these biocalcarenites corresponds very well with those of erratic boulders derived from Tvären; moreover, they correspond to the rim facies of Lockne except for the inclusion of photosynthesizing algae, indicating shallower water at Tvären than Lockne. Consequently, we suggest equivalent distribution patterns for the carbonates of the Dalby Limestone in Lockne and Tvären.
    • The effect of the oceans on the terrestrial crater size-frequency distribution: Insight from numerical modeling

      Davison, T.; Collins, G. S. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      On Earth, oceanic impacts are twice as likely to occur as continental impacts, yet the effect of the oceans has not been previously considered when estimating the terrestrial crater size-frequency distribution. Despite recent progress in understanding the qualitative and quantitative effect of a water layer on the impact process through novel laboratory experiments, detailed numerical modeling, and interpretation of geological and geophysical data, no definitive relationship between impactor properties, water depth, and final crater diameter exists. In this paper, we determine the relationship between final (and transient) crater diameter and the ratio of water depth to impactor diameter using the results of numerical impact models. This relationship applies for normal incidence impacts of stoney asteroids into water-covered, crystalline oceanic crust at a velocity of 15 km s-1. We use these relationships to construct the first estimates of terrestrial crater size-frequency distributions (over the last 100 million years) that take into account the depth-area distribution of oceans on Earth. We find that the oceans reduce the number of craters smaller than 1 km in diameter by about two-thirds, the number of craters ~30 km in diameter by about one-third, and that for craters larger than ~100 km in diameter, the oceans have little effect. Above a diameter of ~12 km, more craters occur on the ocean floor than on land; below this diameter more craters form on land than in the oceans. We also estimate that there have been in the region of 150 impact events in the last 100 million years that formed an impact-related resurge feature, or disturbance on the seafloor, instead of a crater.
    • Sedimentological analysis of resurge deposits at the Lockne and Tvären craters: Clues to flow dynamics

      Ormö, J.; Sturkell, E.; Lindström, M. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      The Lockne and Tvären craters formed about 455 million years ago in an epicontinental sea where seawater and mainly limestones covered a crystalline basement. The target water depth for Tvären (apparent basement crater diameter D = 2 km) was probably not over 150 m, and for Lockne (D = 7.5 km) recent best-fit numerical simulations suggest the target water depth of 500-700 m. Lockne has crystalline ejecta that partly cover an outer crater (14 km diameter) apparent in the target sediments. Tvären is eroded with only the crater infill preserved. We have line-logged cores through the resurge deposits within the craters in order to analyze the resurge flow. The focus was clast lithology, frequencies, and size sorting. We divide the resurge into resurge proper, with water and debris shooting into the crater and ultimately rising into a central water plume, anti-resurge, with flow outward from the collapsing plume, and oscillating resurge (not covered by the line-logging due to methodological reasons), with decreasing flow in diverse directions. At Lockne, the deposit of the resurge proper is coarse and moderately sorted, whereas the anti-resurge deposit is fining upwards and better sorted. The Tvären crater has a smoothly fining-up section deposited by the resurge proper and may lack anti-resurge deposits. At Lockne, the content of crystalline relative to limestone clasts generally decreases upwards, which is the opposite of Tvären. This may be a consequence of factors such as crater size (i.e., complex versus simple) and the relative target water depth. The mean grain size (i.e., the mean phi value per meter, phi) and standard deviation, i.e., size sorting (sigma) for both craters, can be expressed by the equation sigma = 0.60phi 1.25.
    • Formation of uranium-thorium-rich bitumen nodules in the Lockne impact structure, Sweden: A mechanism for carbon concentration at impact sites

      Lindgren, P.; Parnell, J.; Norman, C.; Mark, D. F.; Baron, M.; Ormö, J.; Sturkell, E.; Conliffe, J.; Fraser, W. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      The Ordovician Lockne impact structure is located in central Sweden. The target lithology consisted of limestone and black unconsolidated shale overlaying a Precambrian crystalline basement. The Precambrian basement is uranium-rich, and the black shale is both uranium- and organic-rich. This circumstance makes Lockne a good candidate for testing the occurrence of U-Thrich bitumen nodules in an impact structure setting. U-Th-rich bitumen nodules are formed through irradiation; hence the increase in the complexity of organic matter by a radioactive (uranium- and thorium-rich) mineral phase. U-Th-rich bitumen nodules were detected in crystalline impact breccia and resurge deposits from the impact structure, but samples of non-impact-affected rocks from outside the impact structure do not contain any U-Th-rich bitumen nodules. This implies that in the Lockne impact structure, the nodules are associated with impact-related processes. U-Th-rich bitumen nodules occur throughout the geological record and are not restricted to an impact structure setting, but our studies at Lockne show that this process of irradiation can readily occur in impact structures where fracturing of rocks and a post-impact hydrothermal system enhances fluid circulation. The irradiation of organic matter by radioactive minerals has previously been proposed as a process for concentration of carbon on the early Earth. Impact structures are suggested as sites for prebiotic chemistry and primitive evolution, and irradiation by radioactive minerals could be an important mechanism for carbon concentration at impact sites.
    • Impact metamorphism of CaCO3-bearing sandstones at the Haughton structure, Canada

      Osinski, G. R. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      Impact-metamorphosed CaCO3-bearing sandstones at the Haughton structure have been divided into 6 classes, based to a large extent on a previous classification developed for sandstones at Meteor Crater. Class 1a sandstones (<3 GPa) display crude shatter cones, but no other petrographic indications of shock. At pressures of 3 to 5.5 GPa (class 1b), porosity is destroyed and well-developed shatter cones occur. Class 2 rocks display planar deformation features (PDFs) and are characterized by a "jigsaw" texture produced by rotation and shear at quartz grain boundaries. Calcite shows an increase in the density of mechanical twins and undergoes micro-brecciation in class 1 and 2 sandstones. Class 3 samples display multiple sets of PDFs and widespread development of diaplectic glass, toasted quartz, and symplectic intergrowths of quartz, diaplectic glass, coesite. Textural evidence, such as the intermingling of silicate glasses and calcite and the presence of flow textures, indicates that calcite in class 3 sandstones has undergone melting. This constrains the onset of melting of calcite in the Haughton sandstones to >10 <20 GPa. At higher pressures, the original texture of the sandstone is lost, which is associated with major development of vesicular SiO2 glass or lechatelierite. Class 5 rocks (>30 GPa) consist almost entirely of lechatelierite. A new class of shocked sandstones (class 6) consists of SiO2-rich melt that recrystallized to microcrystalline quartz. Calcite within class 4 to 6 sandstones also underwent melting and is preserved as globules and euhedral crystals within SiO2 phases, demonstrating the importance of impact melting, and not decomposition, in these CaCO3-bearing sandstones.
    • New records of Ediacaran Acraman ejecta in drillholes from the Stuart Shelf and Officer Basin, South Australia

      Hill, A. C.; Haines, P. W.; Grey, K.; Willman, S. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      New occurrences of the Acraman impact ejecta layer were recently discovered in two South Australian drillholes, SCYW-79 1a (Stuart Shelf) and Munta 1 (Officer Basin) using lithostratigraphy, acritarch biostratigraphy, carbon isotope stratigraphy, and biomarker anomalies to predict the stratigraphic position. The ejecta layer is conspicuous because it consists of pink, sandsized, angular fragments of volcanic rock distributed along the bedding plane surface of green marine siltstone. In SCYW-79 1a it forms a layer 5 mm thick; in Munta 1 the ejecta layer is thin and discontinuous because of its distance (~550 km) from the impact structure. Palynological, biomarker, and carbon isotope anomalies can now be shown to coincide with the ejecta layer in SCYW-79 1a and Munta 1 suggesting the Acraman impact event may have had far reaching influences on the rapidly evolving Ediacaran biological and geochemical cycles.
    • Characteristics of oceanic impact-induced large water waves—Re-evaluation of the tsunami hazard

      Wünnemann, K.; Weiss, R.; Hofmann, K. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      The potential hazard of a meteorite impact in the ocean is controversial with respect to the destructive power of generated large ocean waves (tsunamis). We used numerical modeling of hypervelocity impact to investigate the generation mechanism and the characteristics of the resulting waves up to a distance of 100-150 projectile radii. The wave signal is primarily controlled by the ratio between projectile diameter and water depth, and can be roughly classified into deep-water and shallow-water impacts. In the latter, the collapse of the crater rim results in a wave signal similar to solitary waves, which propagate and decay in agreement with shallow-water wave theory. The much more likely scenario for an asteroid impact on Earth is a relatively small body (much smaller than the water depth) striking the deep sea. In this case, the collapse of the transient crater results in a significantly different and much more complex wave signal that is characterized by strong nonlinear behavior. We found that such waves decay much more rapidly than previously assumed and cannot be treated as long waves. For this reason, the shallow-water theory is not applicable for the computation of wave propagation, and more complex models (full solution of the Boussinesq equations) are required.
    • Laboratory impacts into dry and wet sandstone with and without an overlying water layer: Implications for scaling laws and projectile survivability

      Baldwin, E. C.; Milner, D. J.; Burchell, M. J.; Crawford, I. A. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      Scaling laws describing crater dimensions are defined in terms of projectile velocity and mass, densities of the material involved,strength of the target, and the local gravity. Here, the additional importance of target porosity and saturation, and an overlying water layer, are considered through 15 laboratory impacts of 1 mm diameter stainless steel projectiles at 5 km s^(-1) into a) an initially uncharacterized sandstone (porosity ~17%) and b) Coconino Sandstone (porosity ~23%). The higher-porosity dry sandstone allows a crater to form with a larger diameter but smaller depth than in the lower-porosity dry sandstone. Furthermore, for both porosities, a greater volume of material is excavated from a wet target than a dry target (by 27-30%). Comparison of our results with Pi-scaling (dimensionless ratios of key parameters characterizing cratering data over a range of scales) suggests that porosity is important for scaling laws given that the new data lie significantly beneath the current fit for ice and rock targets on a pi-v versus pi-3 plot (pi-v gives cratering efficiency and pi-3 the influence of target strength). An overlying water layer results in a reduction of crater dimensions, with larger craters produced in the saturated targets compared to unsaturated targets. A water depth of approximately 12 times the projectile diameter is required before craters are no longer observed in the targets. Previous experimental studies have shown that this ratio varies between 10 and 20 (Gault and Sonett 1982). In our experiments ~25% of the original projectile mass survives the impact.
    • Review of the population of impactors and the impact cratering rate in the inner solar system

      Michel, P.; Morbidelli, A. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      All terrestrial planets, the Moon, and small bodies of the inner solar system are subjected to impacts on their surface. The best witness of these events is the lunar surface, which kept the memory of the impacts that it underwent during the last 3.8 Gyr. In this paper, we review the recent studies at the origin of a reliable model of the impactor population in the inner solar system, namely the near-Earth object (NEO) population. Then we briefly expose the scaling laws used to relate a crater diameter to body size. The model of the NEO population and its impact frequency on terrestrial planets is consistent with the crater distribution on the lunar surface when appropriate scaling laws are used. Concerning the early phases of our solar systems history, a scenario has recently been proposed that explains the origin of the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB) and some other properties of our solar system. In this scenario, the four giant planets had initially circular orbits, were much closer to each other, and were surrounded by a massive disk of planetesimals. Dynamical interactions with this disk destabilized the planetary system after 500-600 Myr. Consequently, a large portion of the planetesimal disk, as well as 95% of the Main Belt asteroids, were sent into the inner solar system, causing the LHB while the planets reached their current orbits. Our knowledge of solar system evolution has thus improved in the last decade despite our still-poor understanding of the complex cratering process.
    • Trace element concentrations in the Mexico-Belize ejecta layer: A link between the Chicxulub impact and the global Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary

      Wigforss-Lange, J.; Vajda, V.; Ocampo, A. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      Four exposures of Chicxulub impact ejecta along the Mexico-Belize border have been sampled and analyzed for major and trace element abundances. The ejecta deposits consist of a lower spheroid bed, containing clay and dolomite spheroids, and an upper diamictite bed with boulders and clasts of limestone and dolomite. The matrix of both beds is composed of clay and micritic dolomite. The rare earth element (REE) compositions in the matrix of both units show strong similarities in concentrations and pattern. Furthermore, the Zr/TiO2 scatter plot shows a linear correlation indicating one source. These results indicate that the basal spheroid bed has the same source and was generated during the same event as the overlying diamictite bed, which lends support to a single-impact scenario for the Albion Formation ejecta deposits. The elevated concentrations of non-meteoritic elements such as Sb, As, U, and Zn in the matrix of the lower spheroid bed are regarded to have been derived from the sedimentary target rocks at the Chicxulub impact site. The positive Eu and Ce anomalies in clay concretion and in the matrix of the lower part of the spheroid bed in Albion Island quarry is probably related to processes involved in the impact, such as high temperature and oxidizing conditions. Analogous trace element anomalies have been reported from the distal Cretaceous-Paleogene (K/T) boundary clay layer at different sites. Thus, the trace element signals, reported herein, are regarded to support a genetic link between the Chicxulub impact, the ejecta deposits along the Mexico-Belize border, and the global K/T boundary layer.
    • Proceedings of the Workshop on Impact Craters as Indicators for Planetary Environmental Evolution and Astrobiology

      Ormö, J.; Deutsch, A. (The Meteoritical Society, 2007-01-01)
      Proceedings of the Workshop on Impact Craters as Indicators for Planetary Environmental Evolution and Astrobiology