The University of Arizona

The Sirente crater, Italy: Impact versus mud volcano origins

Francesco Stoppa

Abstract


The Sirente crater is a circular structure with a diameter of 80 m. The rim deposit is an inverse-graded, matrix-supported breccia. Sedimentological features of the rim deposit suggest that the crater is not related to an explosion or violent mechanical displacement. The structure and texture of the deposit exhibit a primary sedimentary character. The rim deposits do not contain artifacts and do not show evidence of reworking. A multistage formation is reconstructed for the rim growth and associated deposits. The geometry and sedimentology of the deposits indicate that they were produced by the extrusion and accumulation of mudflow deposits. The dominant ejection mechanism was low mud fountains and the transport medium was water. Petrographic and geochemical evidence does not indicate any physical or cryptic trace of an extraterrestrial body.The most realistic agent that explains the observed effects is a rapid local emission of mud and/or water. Geological processes capable of producing these features include piping sinkholes or, more probably, "caldera"-type mud volcanoes, which may result from underground water-table perturbation and/or decompression of deep CO2/hydrocarbon gas reservoirs due to tectonic deformation or faulting activity during a seismic event. In both cases, the name "crater" for this geological form may be maintained, but there is no compelling evidence for an impact origin.In this paper, the scientific literature on the Sirente crater is reconsidered in the light of new morphological, sedimentological, geochemical, and archaeological data. A new mechanism is proposed involving mud-fountaining.

Keywords


Craters;Sedimentation;Geochemistry;Geomorphology

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