Complex crater formation: Insights from combining observations of shock pressure distribution with numerical models at the West Clearwater Lake impact structure

1A. S. P. Rae, 1G. S. Collins, 2R. A. F. Grieve, 2,3G. R. Osinski and 1J. V. Morgan
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article [DOI: 10.1111/maps.12825]
1Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London, London SW7BP, UK
2Department of Earth Sciences/Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario N6A 5B7, Canada
3Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario N6A 5B7, CanadaPublished by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Large impact structures have complex morphologies, with zones of structural uplift that can be expressed topographically as central peaks and/or peak rings internal to the crater rim. The formation of these structures requires transient strength reduction in the target material and one of the proposed mechanisms to explain this behavior is acoustic fluidization. Here, samples of shock-metamorphosed quartz-bearing lithologies at the West Clearwater Lake impact structure, Canada, are used to estimate the maximum recorded shock pressures in three dimensions across the crater. These measurements demonstrate that the currently observed distribution of shock metamorphism is strongly controlled by the formation of the structural uplift. The distribution of peak shock pressures, together with apparent crater morphology and geological observations, is compared with numerical impact simulations to constrain parameters used in the block-model implementation of acoustic fluidization. The numerical simulations produce craters that are consistent with morphological and geological observations. The results show that the regeneration of acoustic energy must be an important feature of acoustic fluidization in crater collapse, and should be included in future implementations. Based on the comparison between observational data and impact simulations, we conclude that the West Clearwater Lake structure had an original rim (final crater) diameter of 35–40 km and has since experienced up to ~2 km of differential erosion.

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