New insights into the formation and emplacement of impact melt rocks within the Chicxulub impact structure, following the 2016 IODP-ICDP Expedition 364

Sietze J. de Graaff, Pim Kaskes, Thomas Déhais, Steven Goderis, Vinciane Debaille, Catherine H. Ross, Sean P.S. Gulick, Jean-Guillaume Feignon, Ludovic Ferrière, Christian Koeberl, Jan Smit, Nadine Mattielli, Philippe Claeys

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This study presents petrographic and geochemical characterization of 46 pre-impact rocks and 32 impactites containing and/or representing impact melt rock from the peak ring of the Chicxulub impact structure (Yucatán, Mexico). The aims were both to investigate the components that potentially contributed to the impact melt (i.e., the pre-impact lithologies) and to better elucidate impact melt rock emplacement at Chicxulub. The impactites presented here are subdivided into two sample groups: the lower impact melt rock−bearing unit, which intrudes the peak ring at different intervals, and the upper impact melt rock unit, which overlies the peak ring. The geochemical characterization of five identified pre-impact lithologies (i.e., granitoid, dolerite, dacite, felsite, and limestone) was able to constrain the bulk geochemical composition of both impactite units. These pre-impact lithologies thus likely represent the main constituent lithologies that were involved in the formation of impact melt rock. In general, the composition of both impactite units can be explained by mixing of the primarily felsic and mafic lithologies, but with varying degrees of carbonate dilution. It is assumed that the two units were initially part of the same impact-produced melt, but discrete processes separated them during crater formation. The lower impact melt rock−bearing unit is interpreted to represent impact melt rock injected into the crystalline basement during the compression/excavation stage of cratering. These impact melt rock layers acted as delamination surfaces within the crystalline basement, accommodating its displacement during peak ring formation. This movement strongly comminuted the impact melt rock layers present in the peak ring structure. The composition of the upper impact melt rock unit was contingent on the entrainment of carbonate components and is interpreted to have stayed at the surface during crater development. Its formation was not finalized until the modification stage, when carbonate material would have reentered the crater.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-315
Number of pages23
JournalGeological Society of America Bulletin
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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