The University of Arizona

Post-impact structural crater modification due to sediment loading: An overlooked process

F. TSIKALAS, J. I. FALEIDE

Abstract


Post-impact crater morphology and structure modifications due to sediment loading are analyzed in detail and exemplified in five well-preserved impact craters: Mjølnir, Chesapeake Bay, Chicxulub, Montagnais, and Bosumtwi. The analysis demonstrates that the geometry and the structural and stratigraphic relations of post-impact strata provide information about the amplitude, the spatial distribution, and the mode of post-impact deformation. Reconstruction of the original morphology and structure for the Mjølnir, Chicxulub, and Bosumtwi craters demonstrates the long-term subsidence and differential compaction that takes place between the crater and the outside platform region, and laterally within the crater structure. At Mjølnir, the central high developed as a prominent feature during post-impact burial, the height of the peak ring was enhanced, and the cumulative throw on the rim faults was increased. The original Chicxulub crater exhibited considerably less prominent peakring and inner-ring/crater-rim features than the present crater. The original relief of the peak ring was on the order of 420-570 m (currently 535-575 m); the relief on the inner ring/crater rim was 300 450 m (currently ~700 m). The original Bosumtwi crater exhibited a central uplift/high whose structural relief increased during burial (current height 101-110 m, in contrast to the original height of 85-110 m), whereas the surrounding western part of the annular trough was subdued more that the eastern part, exhibiting original depths of 43-68 m (currently 46 m) and 49-55 m (currently 50 m), respectively. Furthermore, a quantitative model for the porosity change caused by the Chesapeake Bay impact was developed utilizing the modeled density distribution. The model shows that, compared with the surrounding platform, the porosity increased immediately after impact up to 8.5% in the collapsed and brecciated crater center (currently +6% due to post-impact compaction). In contrast, porosity decreased by 2-3% (currently -3 to -4.5% due to post-impact compaction) in the peak-ring region. The lateral variations in porosity at Chesapeake Bay crater are compatible with similar porosity variations at Mjølnir crater, and are considered to be responsible for the moderate Chesapeake Bay gravity signature (annular low of -8 mGal instead of -15 mGal). The analysis shows that the reconstructions and the long-term alterations due to post-impact burial are closely related to the impact-disturbed target-rock volume and a brecciated region of laterally varying thickness and depth varying physical properties. The study further shows that several crater morphological and structural parameters are prone to post-impact burial modification and are either exaggerated or subdued during post-impact burial. Preliminary correction factors are established based on the integrated reconstruction and post-impact deformation analysis. The crater morphological and structural parameters, corrected from post-impact loading and modification effects, can be used to better constrain cratering scaling law estimates and impact-related consequences.

Keywords


physical properties;post-impact alteration;impact structure

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