• Hydrothermal alteration in the core of the Yaxcopoil-1 borehole, Chicxulub impact structure, Mexico

      Zürcher, L.; Kring, D. A. (The Meteoritical Society, 2004-01-01)
      Petrographic, electron microprobe, and Raman spectrometric analyses of Yaxcopoil-1 core samples from the Chicxulub crater indicate that the impact generated a hydrothermal system. Relative textural and vein crosscutting relations and systematic distribution of alteration products reveal a progression of the hydrothermal event in space and time and provide constraints on the nature of the fluids. The earliest calcite, halite, and gaylussite suggest that the impactite sequence was initially permeated by a low temperature saline brine. Subsequent development of a higher temperature hydrothermal regime is indicated by thermal metamorphic diopside-hedenbergite (Aeg3Fs(18-33)En32 11Wo(47-53)) after primary augite and widespread Na-K for Ca metasomatic alkali exchange in plagioclase. Hydrothermal sphene, apatite, magnetite +/- (bornite), as well as early calcite (combined 3 to 8 vol%) were introduced with metasomatic feldspar. A lower temperature regime characterized by smectite after probable primary glass, secondary chlorite, and other pre-existing mafic minerals, as well as very abundant calcite veins and open-space fillings, extensively overprinted the early hydrothermal stage. The composition of early and late hydrothermal minerals show that the solution was chlorine-rich (Cl/F >10) and that its Fe/Mg ratio and oxidation state increased substantially (4 to 5 logO2 units) as temperature decreased through time. The most altered zone in the impactite sequence occurs 30 m above the impact melt.The lack of mineralogical zoning about the impact melt and convective modeling constraints suggest that this unit was too thin at Yaxcopoil-1 to provide the necessary heat to drive fluids and implies that the hydrothermal system resulted from the combined effects of a pre-existing saline brine and heat that traveled to the Yaxcopoil-1 site from adjacent areas where the melt sheet was thicker. Limonite after iron oxides is more common toward the top of the sequence and suggests that the impactite section was subjected to weathering before deposition of the Tertiary marine cover. In addition, scarce latest anatase stringers, chalcopyrite, and barite in vugs, francolite after apatite, and recrystallized halite are the likely products of limited post- ydrothermal ambient-temperature diagenesis, or ocean and/or meteoric water circulation.