Petrographic Studies of Rocks from The Chesapeake Bay Impact Structure (USA): Implication for Moderate Shock Pressures in Sedimentary Breccias

  • K Amare


Shock petrographic investigations were carried out on samples collected from drill cores from the Chesapeake Bay impact structure (USA). The late Eocene Chesapeake impact structure is, at 85 km diameter, currently the largest impact structure known in the United States, buried at shallow to moderate depths beneath continental margin sediments underneath southeastern Virginia. To better define the variety of the samples collected from the shallow drill cores and the shock degrees experienced by the target rocks and breccias in the Chesapeake impact crater, thin section analyses were conducted on more than 50 samples from the various zones of the impact structure. The study involves measurements of the orientations of planar deformation features (PDFs) using a universal stage attached to a petrographic microscope. The aim of this study is to determine the shock pressures of various clasts in the shallow breccia fill of the crater. As a result, we note that the overwhelming numbers of shocked grains, which are now present in the sedimentary breccia, are derived from the basement granitoids. Our studies involved samples from four shallow drill cores (Exmore, Windmill Point, Kiptopeke, and Newsport News).The breccia fill is termed the Exmore breccia, which is dominated by particulates of silt, shocked and unshocked granitic fragments, shale, clay, and free shocked quartz grains. The Kiptopke and Windmill Point samples contained rare fragments showing a variety of different shock effects, whereas the Newporte News samples, show several fragments and impact melt with the evidence shock metamorphism was noted. The most abundantly observed shock indicators are shock fracturing, indicative of shock pressures of less than about 10 GPa, as well as 1-2 sets of PDFs in quartz grains, which is indicative of moderate shock pressures of up to about 20 or 25 GPa. Key words: Chesapeake Bay Crater, PDFs, Shock pressure, Universal stage, Impact structure.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2220-184X
print ISSN: 2073-073X