The University of Arizona

Asymmetric signatures in simple craters as an indicator for an oblique impact direction



In oblique impacts with an impact angle under 45°, the bilateral shape of the distal ejecta blanket is used as the strongest indicator for an impact vector. This bilateral symmetry is attenuated and is superimposed by radial symmetry towards the crater rim, which remains circular for impact angles down to 10-15°. The possibility that remnants of bilateral symmetry might still be present in the most proximal ejecta, the overturned flap and the crater rim was explored with the intention of deducing an impact vector. A model is presented that postulates bilateral patterns using proximal ejecta trajectories and predicts these patterns in the orientation of bedding planes in the crater rim. This model was successfully correlated to patterns described by radial grooves in the proximal ejecta blanket of the oblique Tooting crater on Mars. A new method was developed to detect structural asymmetries by converting bedding data into values that express the deviation from concentric strike orientation in the crater rim relative to the crater center, termed "concentric deviation." The method was applied to field data from Wolfe Creek crater, Western Australia. Bedding in the overturned flap implies an impactor striking from the east, which refines earlier publications, while bedding from the inner rim shows a correlation with the crater rim morphology.


oblique Impact;Wolfe Creek Impact Crater;Western Australia;Impact structures;Impact ejecta

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