The University of Arizona

Magnetometer survey of the proposed Sirente meteorite crater field, central Italy: Evidence for uplifted crater rims and buried meteorites

Jens Orm, David Gomez-Ortiz, Patrick C. McGuire, Herbert Henkel, Goro Komatsu, Angelo Pio Rossi

Abstract


The Sirente crater field consists of a 120 m wide, rimmed main depression flanked to the northwest by about 30 smaller depressions. It has been dated to the first centuries A.D. An impact origin is suggested, but not confirmed. The small size combined with the properties of the target material (carbonate mud) would neither allow shock features diagnostic of impact, nor projectile vaporization. Consequently, a meteoritic component in the sediments would be very localized. At impacts of this size the projectile most likely is an iron meteorite. Any iron meteorites on the ground surface would, in Iron Age Europe, have been removed shortly after the event. However, if the depressions are of impact origin they should contain meteorites at great depth in analogy with known craters. The magnetic properties of iron meteorites differ distinctly from the very low magnetic sediments and sedimentary rocks of the Sirente area. We have used a proton precession magnetometer/gradiometer to produce magnetic anomaly maps over four of the smaller depressions (~8 m diameter), as well as two crossing profiles over a fifth depression (~22 m diameter). All show distinct magnetic anomalies of about 20 nT, the larger depression up to 100 nT. Magnetic modeling shows a best fit for structures with upturned strata below their rims, excluding a karstic origin but supporting an explosive formation. The 100 nT anomaly can only be explained by highly-magnetic objects at a few meters depth. All together, the magnetic data provides a strong indication for an impact origin of the crater field.

Keywords


crater(s); Impact;Magnetic;Geophysical signature

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