Compositional Heterogeneity of Impact Melt Rocks at the Haughton Impact Structure, Canada: Implications for Planetary Processes and Remote Sensing

1Rebecca N. Greenberger,1,2Bethany L. Ehlmann,3,4Gordon R. Osinski,3,4Livio L. Tornabene,2Robert O. Green
Journal of Geophysical Research, Planets (in Press) Link to Article []
1Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
2Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
3Department of Earth Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
4Institute for Earth and Space Exploration, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons

Connecting the surface expression of impact crater‐related lithologies to planetary or regional subsurface compositions requires an understanding of material transport during crater formation. Here, we use imaging spectroscopy of 6 clast‐rich impact melt rock outcrops within the well‐preserved 23.5‐Ma, 23‐km diameter Haughton impact structure, Canada, to determine melt rock composition and spatial heterogeneity. We compare results from outcrop to outcrop, using clasts, groundmass, and integrated clast‐groundmass compositions as tracers of transport during crater‐fill melt rock formation and cooling. Supporting laboratory imaging spectroscopy analyses of 91 melt‐bearing breccia and clast samples and microscopic x‐ray fluorescence elemental mapping of cut samples paired with spectroscopy of identical surfaces validate outcrop‐scale lithological determinations. Results show different clast‐rich impact melt rock compositions at three sites kilometers apart and an inverse correlation between silica‐rich (sandstone, gneiss, and phyllosilicate‐rich shales) and gypsum‐rich rocks that suggests differences in source depth with location. In the target stratigraphy, gypsum is primarily sourced from ~1 km depth, while gneiss is from >1.8 km depth, sandstone from >1.3 km, and shales from ~1.6–1.7 km. Observed heterogeneities likely result from different excavation depths coupled with rapid quenching of the melt due to high content of cool clasts. Results provide quantitative constraints for numerical models of impact structure formation and give new details on melt rock heterogeneity important in interpreting mission data and planning sample return of impactites, particularly for bodies with impacts into sedimentary and volatile‐bearing targets, e.g., Mars and Ceres.


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