The University of Arizona

Observations and interpretations at Vredefort, Sudbury, and Chicxulub: Towards an empirical model of terrestrial impact basin formation

R. A. F. Grieve, W. U. Reimold, J. Morgan, U. Riller, M. Pilkington


The structural, topographic and other characteristics of the Vredefort, Sudbury, and Chicxulub impact structures are described. Assuming that the structures originally had the same morphology, the observations/interpretations for each structure are compared and extended to the other structures. This does not result in any major inconsistencies but requires that the observations be scaled spatially. In the case of Vredefort and Sudbury, this is accomplished by scaling the outer limit of particular shock metamorphic features. In the case of Chicxulub, scaling requires a reasoned assumption as to the formation mechanism of an interior peak ring. The observations/interpretations are then used to construct an integrated, empirical kinematic model for a terrestrial peak-ring basin. The major attributes of the model include: a set of outward-directed thrusts in the parautochthonous rocks of the outermost environs of the crater floor, some of which are pre-existing structures that have been reactivated during transient cavity formation; inward-directed motions along the same outermost structures and along a set of structures, at intermediate radial distances, during transient cavity collapse; structural uplift in the center followed by a final set of radially outward-directed thrusts at the outer edges of the structural uplift, during uplift collapse. The rock displacements on the intermediate, inward and innermost, outward sets of structures are consistent with the assumption that a peak ring will result from the convergence of the collapse of the transient cavity rim area and the collapse of the structural uplift.


terrestrial Craters;Chicxulub Impact crater;Sudbury Ontario Canada Impact crater;Vredefort;South Africa impact crater

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