The University of Arizona

Laboratory investigations of marine impact events: Factors influencing crater formation and projectile survivability



Given that the Earths surface is covered in around two-thirds water, the majority of impact events should have occurred in marine environments. However, with the presence of a water layer, crater formation may be prohibited. Indeed, formation is greatly controlled by the water depth to projectile diameter ratio, as discussed in this paper. Previous work has shown that the underlying target material also influences crater formation (e.g., Gault and Sonett 1982; Baldwin et al. 2007). In addition to the above parameters we also show the influence of impact angle, impact velocity and projectile density for a variety of water depths on crater formation and projectile survivability. The limiting ratio of water depth to projectile diameter on cratering represents the point at which the projectile is significantly slowed by transit through the water layer to reduce the impact energy to that which prohibits cratering. We therefore study the velocity decay produced by a water layer using laboratory, analytical and numerical modelling techniques, and determine the peak pressures endured by the projectile. For an impact into a water depth five times the projectile diameter, the velocity of the projectile is found to be reduced to 26-32% its original value. For deep water impacts we find that up to 60% of the original mass of the projectile survives in an oblique impact, where survivability is defined as the solid or melted mass fraction of the projectile that could be collected after impact.


terrestrial Crater(s);marine Impact;Impact craters

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