Detrital shocked minerals: microstructural provenance indicators of impact craters

Monday, 15 December 2014: 9:45 AM
Aaron J Cavosie, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, Dept. of Geology, Mayaguez, PR, United States; University of Wisconsin Madison, Dept. of Geoscience, Madison, WI, United States
The study of detrital shocked minerals (DSMs) merges planetary science, sedimentology, mineralogy/crystallography, accessory mineral geochemistry, and geochronology, with the goal of identifying and determining provenance of shock metamorphosed sand grains. Diagnostic high-pressure impact-generated microstructures (planar fractures, planar deformation features) are readily identified on external grain surfaces using standard SEM imaging methods (BSE), and when found, unambiguously confirm an impact origin for a given sand grain. DSMs, including quartz, zircon, monazite, and apatite, have thus far been documented at the Vredefort Dome [1,2,3], Sudbury [4], Rock Elm [5], and Santa Fe [6,7] impact structures. DSMs have been identified in alluvium, colluvium, beach sand, and glacial deposits. Two main processes are recognized that imply the global siliciclastic record contains DSMs: they survive extreme distal transport, and they survive ‘deep time’ lithification. Distal transport: In South Africa, shocked minerals are preserved in alluvium from the Vaal River >750 km downstream from the Vredefort impact; SHRIMP U-Pb geochronology has confirmed the origin of detrital shocked zircon and monazite from shocked Vredefort bedrock [2]. Vredefort-derived shocked zircons have also been found at the mouth of the Orange River on the Atlantic coast, having travelled ~2000 km downriver from Vredefort [8]. Deep time preservation: Vredefort-derived shocked zircon and quartz has been documented in glacial diamictite from the 300 Myr-old Dwyka Group in South Africa. Shocked minerals were thus entrained and transported in Paleozoic ice sheets that passed over Vredefort [9]. An impact crater can thus be viewed as a unique ‘point source’, in some cases for billions of years [2,4]; DSMs thus have applications in studying eroded impact craters, sedimentary provenance, landscape evolution, and long-term sediment transport processes throughout the geologic record. This work was supported by NSF (EAR-1145118) and NASA Astrobiology

[1] Cavosie et al. 2010 GSA Bulletin. [2] Erickson et al. 2013 GCA. [3] Erickson et al. 2013 Am. Min. [4] Thomson et al. 2014 GSA Bulletin. [5] Roig et al. 2013 LPSC. [6] Lugo and Cavosie 2014 LPSC. [7] Cavosie and Lugo, 2014 LPSC. [8] Montalvo and Cavosie, 2014 GSA. [9] Pincus et al. 2014 GSA.