Hyperspectral imaging of drill core from the Steen River impact structure, Canada: Implications for hydrothermal activity and formation of suevite‐like breccias

1E. A. MacLagan,1,2E. L. Walton,1C. D. K. Herd,1B. Rivard
Meteoritics & Planetary Science (in Press) Link to Article [https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.13388]
1Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, 1-26 Earth Sciences Building, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E3, Canada
2Department of Physical Sciences, MacEwan University, City Centre Campus, 10700 104 Ave, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4S2, Canada
Published by Arrangement with John Wiley and Sons

Hyperspectral imaging can be used to rapidly identify and map the spatial
distributions of many minerals. Here, hyperspectral mapping in three wavelength regions(visible and near-infrared, shortwave infrared, and thermal infrared) was applied to drill cores (ST001, ST002, and ST003) penetrating a continuous sequence of crater-fill breccias from the Steen River impact structure in Alberta, Canada. The combined data sets reveal distinct mineralogical layering, with breccias derived predominantly from sedimentary rocks overlying those derived from granitic basement. This stratigraphy demonstrates that the
breccias were not appreciably disturbed following deposition, which is inconsistent with formation models of similar breccias (suevites) by explosive impact melt–fluid interaction. At Steen River, volatiles from sedimentary target rocks were an inherent part of forming these enigmatic breccias. Approximately three quarters of terrestrial impact structures contain sedimentary target rocks; therefore, the role of volatiles in producing so-called
suevitic breccias may be more widespread than previously realized. The hyperspectral maps, specifically within the SWIR wavelength region, also delineate minerals associated with postimpact hydrothermal activity, including ammoniated clay and feldspar minerals not detectable using traditional techniques. These nitrogen-bearing minerals may have originated from microbial processes, associated with oil- and gas-producing units in the
crater vicinity. Such minerals may have important implications for the production of habitable environments by impact-induced hydrothermal activity on Earth and Mars.


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