• Cratering and modification of wet-target craters: Projectile impact experiments and field observations of the Lockne marine-target crater (Sweden)

      Ormö, Jens; Lindström, Maurits; Lepinette, Alain; Martinez-Frias, Jess; Diaz-Martinez, Enrique (The Meteoritical Society, 2006-01-01)
      Marine impacts are one category of crater formation in volatile targets. At target water depths exceeding the diameter of the impactor, the zones of vaporization, melting, and excavation of the standard land-target cratering model develop partially or entirely in the water column. The part of the crater that has a potential of being preserved (seafloor crater) may to a great extent be formed by material emplacement and excavation processes that are very different from land-target craters. These processes include a high-energy, water-jet-driven excavation flow. At greater water depths, the difference in strength of the target layers causes a concentric crater to evolve. The crater consists of a wide water cavity with a shallow excavation flow along the seabed surrounding a nested, deeper crater in the basement. The modification of the crater is likewise influenced by the water through its forceful resurge to fill the cavity in the water mass and the seafloor. The resurge flow is strongly erosive and incorporates both ejecta and rip-up material from the seabed surrounding the excavated crater. A combination of field observations and impact experiments has helped us analyze the processes affecting the zone between the basement crater and the maximum extent of the water cavity. The resurge erosion is facilitated by fragmentation of the upper parts of the solid target caused by a) spallation and b) vibrations from the shallow excavation flow and, subsequently, c) the vertical collapse of the water cavity rim wall. In addition, poorly consolidated and saturated sediments may collapse extensively, possibly aided by a violent expansion of the pore water volume when it turns into a spray during passage of the rarefaction wave. This process may also occur at impacts into water-saturated targets without an upper layer of seawater present. Our results have implications for impacts on both Earth and Mars, and possibly anywhere in the solar system where volatiles exist/have existed in the upper part of the target.
    • Effect of volatiles and target lithology on the generation and emplacement of impact crater fill and ejecta deposits on Mars

      Osinski, Gordon R. (The Meteoritical Society, 2006-01-01)
      Impact cratering is an important geological process on Mars and the nature of Martian impact craters may provide important information as to the volatile content of the Martian crust. Terrestrial impact structures currently provide the only ground-truth data as to the role of volatiles and an atmosphere on the impact-cratering process. Recent advancements, based on studies of several well-preserved terrestrial craters, have been made regarding the role and effect of volatiles on the impact-cratering process. Combined field and laboratory studies reveal that impact melting is much more common in volatile-rich targets than previously thought, so impact-melt rocks, melt-bearing breccias, and glasses should be common on Mars. Consideration of the terrestrial impact-cratering record suggests that it is the presence or absence of subsurface volatiles and not the presence of an atmosphere that largely controls ejecta emplacement on Mars. Furthermore, recent studies at the Haughton and Ries impact structures reveal that there are two discrete episodes of ejecta deposition during the formation of complex impact craters that provide a mechanism for generating multiple layers of ejecta. It is apparent that the relative abundance of volatiles in the near-surface region outside a transient cavity and in the target rocks within the transient cavity play a key role in controlling the amount of fluidization of Martian ejecta deposits. This study shows the value of using terrestrial analogues, in addition to observational data from robotic orbiters and landers, laboratory experiments, and numerical modeling to explore the Martian impact-cratering record.
    • 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.