Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Runoff required to drive postimpact gully development on the walls of Meteor Crater (Arizona, USA)

Marisa C. Palucis, Alan D. Howard, David A. Kring, Kuni Nishiizumi, Marc Caffee and William E. Dietrich
Runoff required to drive postimpact gully development on the walls of Meteor Crater (Arizona, USA)
Geological Society of America Bulletin (July 2023) 136 (3-4): 1003-1022


Since the impact approximately 50,000 yr ago, surface runoff has entrained and transported sediment from the walls to the floor of Meteor Crater (Arizona, USA). Previous work interpreted this erosion and deposition to be due to predominantly fluvial (i.e., dilute water transport) processes. However, light detection and ranging (LiDAR)-derived topographic data and field observations indicate that debris flows dominated, which were likely generated by runoff that entrained the talus that borders bedrock cliffs high on the crater walls. The low gradient of the crater floor caused debris flows to stop, leaving lobate deposits, while fluvial processes delivered sediment toward the center of the crater. Cosmogenic radionuclide dating of levee deposits suggests that debris-flow activity ceased in the late Pleistocene, synchronous with regional drying. Assuming a rock-to-water ratio of 0.3 at the time of transport by mass flows, it would have taken approximately 2 X 10 (super 6) m (super 3) of water to transport the estimated approximately 6.8 X 10 (super 6) m (super 3) of debris-flow deposits found at the surface of the crater floor. This extensive erosion would require approximately 6 m of total runoff over the 0.35 km (super 2) upslope source area of the crater, or approximately (super 18) mm of runoff per debris-flow event. Much more runoff did occur, as evidenced by crater lake deposits, Holocene fluvial activity (which produced little erosion), and contemporary rainfall rates. Rarely on Earth is the total amount of water that creates and runs through a landscape estimated, yet such calculations are commonly done on Mars. Our analysis suggests that erosional and depositional landforms may record only a small fraction of the total runoff.

ISSN: 0016-7606
EISSN: 1943-2674
Serial Title: Geological Society of America Bulletin
Serial Volume: 136
Serial Issue: 3-4
Title: Runoff required to drive postimpact gully development on the walls of Meteor Crater (Arizona, USA)
Affiliation: Dartmouth College, Department of Earth Science, Hanover, NH, United States
Pages: 1003-1022
Published: 20230712
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 113
Accession Number: 2023-051872
Categories: Geomorphology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 4 tables, sketch map
N35°01'00" - N35°01'60", W111°01'60" - W111°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: Planetary Science Institute, USA, United StatesLunar and Planetary Institute, USA, United StatesUniversity of California Berkeley, USA, United StatesPurdue University, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2024, 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: 202332
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal