• 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.
    • 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.