Abstract

U-Pb geochronology of single grains of zircon and monazite has been used to date an episode of intense postimpact metamorphism in the core of the deeply eroded Vredefort impact structure of South Africa. Results from two basement units exposed in the uplifted central region indicate that the impact and a later pyroxene hornfels metamorphic event were penecontemporaneous at 2020 ± 3 Ma. Discovery of a synimpact to postimpact dike of norite that intruded at 2019 ± 2 Ma is the first recognition of mafic igneous activity related to impact. The dike is either derived from a Sudbury-type impact melt layer (since eroded) or is the product of decompression melting of Kaapvaal mantle in response to the ablation of >15 km of crust at the center of the crater. The combined heating effects of the shock wave and impact-triggered magmas are thought to have created the 300 km2 thermal imprint of the asteroid collision with Kaapvaal craton, and account for the nearly coeval timing relationship between core metamorphism and shock revealed by this study.

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