Abstract

Small impact events recorded on the surface of Earth are significantly underrepresented based on expected magnitude-frequency relations. We report the discovery of a 36-m-diameter late Holocene impact crater located in a forested area near the town of Whitecourt, Alberta, Canada. Although undetectable using visible imagery, the presence of the crater is revealed using a bare-Earth digital elevation model obtained through airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR). The target material comprises deglacial Quaternary sediments, with impact ejecta burying a late Holocene soil dated to ca. 1100 14C yr B.P. Most of the 74 iron meteorites (0.1–1196 g) recovered have an angular exterior morphology. These meteorites were buried at depths <25 cm and are interpreted to result from fragmentation of the original projectile mass, either at low altitude or during the impact event. Impact of the main mass formed the simple bowl-shaped impact structure associated with an ejecta blanket and crater fill. The increasing availability of LiDAR data for many terrestrial surfaces will serve as a useful tool in the discovery of additional small impact features.

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