The late Eocene Chesapeake Bay impact structure, located on the Atlantic margin of Virginia, may be Earth's best-preserved large impact structure formed in a shallow marine, siliciclastic, continental-shelf environment. It has the form of an inverted sombrero in which a central crater ???40 km in diameter is surrounded by a shallower brim, the annular trough, that extends the diameter to ???85 km. The annular trough is interpreted to have formed largely by the collapse and mobilization of weak sediments. Crystalline-clast suevite, found only in the central crater, contains clasts and blocks of shocked gneiss that likely were derived from the fragmentation of the central-uplift basement. The suevite and entrained megablocks are interpreted to have formed from impact-melt particles and crystalline-rock debris that never left the central crater, rather than as a fallback deposit. Impact-modified sediments in the annular trough include megablocks of Cretaceous nonmarine sediment disrupted by faults, fluidized sands, fractured clays, and mixed-sediment intercalations. These impact-modified sediments could have formed by a combination of processes, including ejection into and mixing of sediments in the water column, rarefaction-induced fragmentation and clastic injection, liquefaction and fluidization of sand in response to acoustic-wave vibrations, gravitational collapse, and inward lateral spreading. The Exmore beds, which blanket the entire crater and nearby areas, consist of a lower diamicton member overlain by an upper stratified member. They are interpreted as unstratified ocean-resurge deposits, having depositional cycles that may represent stages of inward resurge or outward anti-resurge flow, overlain by stratified fallout of suspended sediment from the water column. ?? 2008 The Geological Society of America. All rights reserved.
Additional Publication Details
Origin and emplacement of impactites in the Chesapeake Bay impact structure, Virginia, USA
Special Paper of the Geological Society of America