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Explosive interaction of impact melt and seawater following the Chicxulub impact event

Gordon R. Osinski, Richard A. F. Grieve, Patrick J. A. Hill, Sarah L. Simpson, Charles Cockell, Gail L. Christeson, Matthias Ebert, Sean Gulick, H. Jay Melosh, Ulrich Riller, Sonia M. Tikoo and Axel Wittmann
Explosive interaction of impact melt and seawater following the Chicxulub impact event
Geology (Boulder) (November 2019) 48 (2): 108-112


The impact of asteroids and comets with planetary surfaces is one of the most catastrophic, yet ubiquitous, geological processes in the solar system. The Chicxulub impact event, which has been linked to the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction marking the beginning of the Cenozoic Era, is arguably the most significant singular geological event in the past 100 million years of Earth's history. The Chicxulub impact occurred in a marine setting. How quickly the seawater re-entered the newly formed basin after the impact, and its effects of it on the cratering process, remain debated. Here, we show that the explosive interaction of seawater with impact melt led to molten fuel-coolant interaction (MFCI), analogous to what occurs during phreatomagmatic volcanic eruptions. This process fractured and dispersed the melt, which was subsequently deposited subaqueously to form a series of well-sorted deposits. These deposits bear little resemblance to the products of impacts in a continental setting and are not accounted for in current classification schemes for impactites. The similarities between these Chicxulub deposits and the Onaping Formation at the Sudbury impact structure, Canada, are striking, and suggest that MFCI and the production of volcaniclastic-like deposits is to be expected for large impacts in shallow marine settings.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 48
Serial Issue: 2
Title: Explosive interaction of impact melt and seawater following the Chicxulub impact event
Affiliation: University of Western Ontario, Department of Earth Sciences, London, ON, Canada
Pages: 108-112
Published: 20191122
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 39
Accession Number: 2020-000549
Categories: Stratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table
N21°27'01" - N21°27'01", W89°56'58" - W89°56'58"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Edinburgh, GBR, United KingdomUniversity of Texas at Austin, USA, United StatesUniversitaet Freiburg, DEU, GermanyPurdue University, USA, United StatesUniversitaet Hamburg, DEU, GermanyStanford University, USA, United StatesArizona State University, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 202001
Program Name: IODPIntegrated Ocean Drilling Program
Program Name: IODP2International Ocean Discovery Program
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