Deep drilling in the Chesapeake Bay impact structure - An overview

Special Paper of the Geological Society of America

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DOI: 10.1130/2009.2458(01)



The late Eocene Chesapeake Bay impact structure lies buried at moderate depths below Chesapeake Bay and surrounding landmasses in southeastern Virginia, USA. Numerous characteristics made this impact structure an inviting target for scientific drilling, including the location of the impact on the Eocene continental shelf, its threelayer target structure, its large size (??85 km diameter), its status as the source of the North American tektite strewn field, its temporal association with other late Eocene terrestrial impacts, its documented effects on the regional groundwater system, and its previously unstudied effects on the deep microbial biosphere. The Chesapeake Bay Impact Structure Deep Drilling Project was designed to drill a deep, continuously cored test hole into the central part of the structure. A project workshop, funding proposals, and the acceptance of those proposals occurred during 2003-2005. Initial drilling funds were provided by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Supplementary funds were provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate, ICDP, and USGS. Field operations were conducted at Eyreville Farm, Northampton County, Virginia, by Drilling, Observation, and Sampling of the Earth's Continental Crust (DOSECC) and the project staff during September-December 2005, resulting in two continuously cored, deep holes. The USGS and Rutgers University cored a shallow hole to 140 m in April-May 2006 to complete the recovered section from land surface to 1766 m depth. The recovered section consists of 1322 m of crater materials and 444 m of overlying postimpact Eocene to Pleistocene sediments. The crater section consists of, from base to top: basement-derived blocks of crystalline rocks (215 m); a section of suevite, impact melt rock, lithic impact breccia, and cataclasites (154 m); a thin interval of quartz sand and lithic blocks (26 m); a granite megablock (275 m); and sediment blocks and boulders, polymict, sediment-clast-dominated sedimentary breccias, and a thin upper section of stratified sediments (652 m). The cored postimpact sediments provide insight into the effects of a large continental-margin impact on subsequent coastal-plain sedimentation. This volume contains the first results of multidisciplinary studies of the Eyreville cores and related topics. The volume is divided into these sections: geologic column; borehole geophysical studies; regional geophysical studies; crystalline rocks, impactites, and impact models; sedimentary breccias; postimpact sediments; hydrologic and geothermal studies; and microbiologic studies. ?? 2009 The Geological Society of America.

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Deep drilling in the Chesapeake Bay impact structure - An overview
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