Abstract

The Lake Bosumtwi impact structure is the youngest and best-preserved complex terrestrial impact crater and serves as an important reference site for the study of cratering processes. Because the impacting body struck continental crystalline target rocks and not a submerged sedimentary platform, no significant backwash processes have modified the crater morphology. Not only may Bosumtwi contain the best-preserved central uplift structure on Earth, but it is the most accessible relatively large, young crater in the solar system generated in a large gravity field. There is a well-established link between the Lake Bosumtwi impact structure and the Ivory Coast tektite field, and the lacustrine sediments within the crater contain a unique 1 m.y. record of paleoclimate in the continental tropics south of the Sahel. Eight profiles of marine-type multichannel seismic reflection (MCS) data were acquired from the 8-km-diameter, ∼75-m-deep lake that fills much of the crater. These were augmented by wide-angle seismic data acquired with ocean-bottom hydrophones. MCS data reveal a well-defined central uplift near the northwest-central part of the lake and a maximum postimpact lacustrine sediment thickness of ∼310 m. The central uplift structure has a diameter of 1.9 km and a maximum height of 130 m above the annular moat inside the crater. An intermediate velocity layer (3200 m/s) beneath the lacustrine sediment is interpreted as fallback breccia or a breccia-melt horizon. The measured apparent depth of the crater (da) is 500 m, implying a slightly higher aspect ratio for the structure than predicted from published empirical relationships. The Bosumtwi structure is a small complex crater that deviates slightly from trends predicted from classical scaling laws, perhaps because of the effects of a large gravity field.

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