• 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.
    • Role of water in the formation of the Late Cretaceous Wetumpka impact structure, inner Gulf Coastal Plain of Alabama, USA

      King, David T.; Ormö, Jens; Petruny, Lucille W.; Neathery, Thornton L. (The Meteoritical Society, 2006-01-01)
      The effect of shallow marine water (30-100 m deep) in the late excavation and early modification stages of a marine-target crater 5 km in diameter, as exemplified by the Late Cretaceous Wetumpka impact structure in Alabama, USA, is manifest in the early collapse of a weak part of the rim. Excavation flow and connate marine water are interpreted to be factors in this collapse. This partial rim collapse catastrophically emplaced an upper-structure-filling unit of broken and redistributed sedimentary target formations, which presently mantles the deeper fallback breccia deposits within the structure. Furthermore, rim collapse flow facilitated the formation of a structurally modified, extrastructure terrain, which is located outside and adjacent to the collapsed rim segment. This extrastructure terrain appears to be the product of extensive slumping of poorly consolidated target sedimentary formations.