The University of Arizona

The Sirente crater field, Italy

J. Ormö, A. P. Rossi, G. Komatsu


We propose the Sirente crater field to be the first discovered impact craters in Italy. They are located in the Sirente plain within the mountains of the Abruzzo region, central Italy. The craters are distributed in a field 450 m long and 400 m wide. This field consists of about 17 smaller craters close to a larger main crater. The main crater is located in the southern end of the crater field and is 140 m long and 115 m wide, measured rim-to-rim. It has a well-developed, saddle-shaped rim that rises at a maximum 2.2 m above the surrounding plain. Radiocarbon dating of the target surface preserved below the rim gave a calibrated age of formation at about 412 A.D. (1650 ± 40 radiocarbon years B.P.). This young age is consistent with the apparent little modification of the rim. The morphology of the main crater and its relation to a crater field strongly points to its origin by impact from a projectile that broke up during its passage through the atmosphere. Quartz is very rare in the target and no planar deformation features (PDFs) have been found so far. The rim material and the upper 4 m of the main crater infill are impregnated with ferric oxides, which gives a more reddish colour compared to the other sediments of the plain. Rusty crusts with high Fe and Mn content occur in the rim material, but have not been found in the plain's sediments. Some of these crusts can be separated by magnet, and have sporadic micron-sized Ni-rich granules. The main crater is in the size range of craters with explosive dispersion of the projectile and has many features comparable to both large experimental and meteoritic impact craters formed in loose sediments. We suggest that this crater represents a rare example of well-preserved, small impact craters formed in unconsolidated target materials.


Impact cratering;Geochemistry;Crater clusters

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