Calculations indicate that the impact of an asteroid or comet on the Atlantic Coastal Plain 35 million years ago created subsequent hydrothermal activity and conditions suitable for phase separation and the creation of the brine observed in the groundwater at the site today. A calculation of groundwater velocity using Darcy's law suggests flow rates are insufficient to have moved the water out of the crater within 35 million years. A similar calculation using Pick's law demonstrates that solutes cannot have escaped by molecular diffusion since the impact. Simulations from other investigators using shock-physics codes indicate that the crust would have been vaporized or melted down to at least 2 km at the time of impact. Based on these calculations, a simulation of heat conduction was made assuming a 1000 ??C initial crustal temperature. The hot crust acted as a heat source, with temperatures peaking in the overlying sediment about 10,000 years later. The pressure and temperature conditions within the sediment during that time would have been favorable for phase separation and generation of a residual brine, which may be found today in the inner crater. ?? 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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Heat flow and brine generation following the Chesapeake Bay bolide impact