Petrography and geochemistry of the impact to postimpact transition layer at the El’gygytgyn impact structure in Chukotka, Arctic Russia

1Karin Maierhofer,1,2,3Christian Koeberl,3Julie Brigham‐Grette
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article []
1Department of Lithospheric Research, University of Vienna, , A‐1090 Vienna, Austria
2 Natural History Museum, , A‐1010 Vienna, Austria
3Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, 01003 USA
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

The 3.6 Ma El’gygytgyn impact structure, located in northeast Chukotka in Arctic Russia, was largely formed in acidic volcanic rocks. The 18 km diameter circular depression is today filled with Lake El’gygytgyn (diameter of 12 km) that contains a continuous record of lacustrine sediments of the Arctic from the past 3.6 Myr. In 2009, El’gygytgyn became the focus of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) in which a total of 642.4 m of drill core was recovered. Lithostratigraphically, the drill cores comprise lacustrine sediment sequences, impact breccias, and deformed target rocks. The impactite core was recovered from 316.08 to 517.30 meters below lake floor (mblf). Because of the rare, outstanding recovery, the transition zone, ranging from 311.47 to 317.38 m, between the postimpact lacustrine sediments and the impactite sequences, was studied petrographically and geochemically. The transition layer comprises a mixture of about 6 m of loose sedimentary and volcanic material containing isolated clasts of minerals and melt. Shock metamorphic effects, such as planar fractures (PFs) and planar deformation features (PDFs), were observed in a few quartz grains. The discoveries of silica diaplectic glass hosting coesite, kinked micas and amphibole, lechatelierite, numerous impact melt shards and clasts, and spherules are associated with the impact event. The occurrence of spherules, impact melt clasts, silica diaplectic glass, and lechatelierite, about 1 m below the onset of the transition, marks the beginning of the more coherent impact ejecta layer. The results of siderophile interelement ratios of the transition layer spherules give indications of the relative contribution of the meteoritical component.


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