The University of Arizona

Intra-crater sedimentary deposits at the Haughton impact structure, Devon Island, Canadian High Arctic

Gordon R. Osinski, Pascal Lee


Detailed field mapping has revealed the presence of a series of intra-crater sedimentary deposits within the interior of the Haughton impact structure, Devon Island, Canadian High Arctic. Coarse-grained, well-sorted, pale gray lithic sandstones (reworked impact melt breccias) unconformably overlie pristine impact melt breccias and attest to an episode of erosion, during which time significant quantities of impact melt breccias were removed. The reworked impact melt breccias are, in turn, unconformably overlain by paleolacustrine sediments of the Miocene Haughton Formation. Sediments of the Haughton Formation were clearly derived from pre-impact lower Paleozoic target rocks of the Allen Bay Formation, which form the crater rim in the northern, western, and southern regions of the Haughton structure. Collectively, these field relationships indicate that the Haughton Formation was deposited up to several million years after the formation of the Haughton crater and that they do not, therefore, represent an immediate, post-impact crater lake deposit. This is consistent with new isotopic dating of impactites from Haughton that indicate an Eocene age for the impact event (Sherlock et al. 2005). In addition, isolated deposits of post-Miocene intra-crater glacigenic and fluvioglacial sediments were found lying unconformably over remnants of the Haughton Formation, impact melt breccias, and other pre-impact target rock formations. These deposits provide clear evidence for glaciation at the Haughton crater. The wealth and complexity of geological and climatological information preserved as intra-crater deposits at Haughton suggests that craters on Mars with intra-crater sedimentary records might present us with similar opportunities, but also possibly significant challenges.


Impact cratering;Sedimentation;Impact breccia;Impact crater;Haughton

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