The Vredefort impact structure, South Africa, is a 2.02 Ga deeply eroded meteorite scar that provides an opportunity to study large impact craters at their lower stratigraphic levels. A series of anomalous granophyre dikes in the core of the structure are believed to be composed of an impact melt, which intruded downwards from the crater floor, exploiting fractures in basement rocks. However, the melt emplacement mechanisms and timing are not constrained. The granophyre dikes contain supracrustal xenoliths captured at higher levels, presently eroded. By studying these clasts and shocked minerals within, we can better understand the nature of dikes, magnitude of impact melt movement, conditions that affected target rocks near the impacted surface, and erosional rates. We report “former reidite in granular neoblastic” (FRIGN) zircon within a granite clast enclosed in the granophyre. High-pressure zircon transformation to reidite (ZrSiO4) and reversion to zircon resulted in zircon grains composed of fine neoblasts (~0.5–3 μm) with two or three orthogonal orientations. Our finding provides new independent constraints on the emplacement history of Vredefort granophyre dikes. Based on the environment, where other FRIGN zircons are found (impact glasses and melts), the clast was possibly captured near the top of the impact melt sheet and transported to the lowermost levels of the structure, traveling some 8–10 km. Our finding not only provides the highest-pressure shock estimates thus far discovered in the Vredefort structure (≥30 GPa), but also shows that microscopic evidence of high shock pressures can be found within large eroded craters at their lowest stratigraphic levels.
Granular zircon from Vredefort granophyre (South Africa) confirms the deep injection model for impact melt in large impact structures
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Elizaveta Kovaleva, Dmitry A. Zamyatin, Gerlinde Habler; Granular zircon from Vredefort granophyre (South Africa) confirms the deep injection model for impact melt in large impact structures. Geology doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/G46040.1
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