Ballen quartz and cristobalite in impactites: New investigations
Published:September 01, 2010
Ludovic Ferrière, Christian Koeberl, Eugen Libowitzky, W. Uwe Reimold, Ansgar Greshake, Franz Brandstätter, 2010. "Ballen quartz and cristobalite in impactites: New investigations", Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution IV, Roger L. Gibson, Wolf Uwe Reimold
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The study of α-quartz and α-cristobalite ballen in rocks from 16 impact structures (Bosumtwi, Chesapeake Bay, Chicxulub, Dellen, El'gygytgyn, Jänisjärvi, Lappajärvi, Logoisk, Mien, Popigai, Puchezh-Katunki, Ries, Rochechouart, Sääksjärvi, Ternovka, and Wanapitei) shows that ballen silica occurs mainly in impact melt rock and also in suevite, and more rarely in other types of impactites. Ballen α-cristobalite by itself was observed only in samples from the youngest craters studied here (at Bosumtwi and El'gygytgyn), but it occurs in association with α-quartz ballen in impactites from structures with intermediate ages (from ca. 35 to 120 Ma); thus, our observations suggest that α-cristobalite ballen are back-transformed to α-quartz with time. Transmission electron microscope observations show that α-cristobalite and α-quartz ballen have similar microtextures and are formed of several tiny angular crystals with sizes up to ~6 μm. The observation of toasted α-quartz ballen, notably at the Popigai impact structure, further supports the notion that toasting is due to vesicle formation after pressure release, at high post-shock temperatures, and, thus, represents the beginning of quartz breakdown due to heating. Our investigation increases the number of impact structures at which ballen silica has been found to 35.