• Chesapeake Bay impact structure: Morphology, crater fill, and relevance for impact structures on Mars

      Horton, J. Wright; Ormö, Jens; Powars, David S.; Gohn, Gregory S. (The Meteoritical Society, 2006-01-01)
      The late Eocene Chesapeake Bay impact structure (CBIS) on the Atlantic margin of Virginia is one of the largest and best-preserved "wet-target" craters on Earth. It provides an accessible analog for studying impact processes in layered and wet targets on volatile-rich planets. The CBIS formed in a layered target of water, weak clastic sediments, and hard crystalline rock. The buried structure consists of a deep, filled central crater, 38 km in width, surrounded by a shallower brim known as the annular trough. The annular trough formed partly by collapse of weak sediments, which expanded the structure to ~85 km in diameter. Such extensive collapse, in addition to excavation processes, can explain the "inverted sombrero" morphology observed at some craters in layered targets.The distribution of crater-fill materials in the CBIS is related to the morphology. Suevitic breccia, including pre-resurge fallback deposits, is found in the central crater. Impact-modified sediments, formed by fluidization and collapse of water-saturated sand and silt-clay, occur in the annular trough. Allogenic sediment-clast breccia, interpreted as ocean-resurge deposits, overlies the other impactites and covers the entire crater beneath a blanket of postimpact sediments.The formation of chaotic terrains on Mars is attributed to collapse due to the release of volatiles from thick layered deposits. Some flat-floored rimless depressions with chaotic infill in these terrains are impact craters that expanded by collapse farther than expected for similar-sized complex craters in solid targets. Studies of crater materials in the CBIS provide insights into processes of crater expansion on Mars and their links to volatiles.