The University of Arizona

Impactites of the Haughton impact structure, Devon Island, Canadian High Arctic

Gordon R. Osinski, John G. Spray, Pascal Lee


Contrary to the previous interpretation of a single allochthonous impactite lithology, combined field, optical, and analytical scanning electron microscopy (SEM) studies have revealed the presence of a series of impactites at the Haughton impact structure. In the crater interior, there is a consistent upward sequence from parautochthonous target rocks overlain by parautochthonous lithic (monomict) breccias, through allochthonous lithic (polymict) breccia, into pale grey allochthonous impact melt breccias. The groundmass of the pale grey impact melt breccias consists of microcrystalline calcite, silicate impact melt glass, and anhydrite. Analytical data and microtextures indicate that these phases represent a series of impact-generated melts that were molten at the time of, and following, deposition. Impact melt glass clasts are present in approximately half of the samples studied. Consideration of the groundmass phases and impact glass clasts reveal that impactites of the crater interior contain shock-melted sedimentary material from depths of >920 to <1880 m in the pre-impact target sequence.Two principal impactites have been recognized in the near-surface crater rim region of Haughton. Pale yellow-brown allochthonous impact melt breccias and megablocks are overlain by pale grey allochthonous impact melt breccias. The former are derived from depths of >200 to <760 m and are interpreted as remnants of the continuous ejecta blanket. The pale grey impact melt breccias, although similar to the impact melt breccias of the crater interior, are more carbonate-rich and do not appear to have incorporated clasts from the crystalline basement. Thus, the spatial distribution of the crater-fill impactites at Haughton, the stratigraphic succession from target rocks to allochthonous impactites, the recognition of large volumes of impact melt breccias, and their probable original volume are all analogous to characteristics of coherent impact melt layers in comparatively sized structures formed in crystalline targets.


Impact melt breccias;Carbonate melts;Haughton impact structure;Impactites;Crystalline versus sedimentary targets

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