The Chickahominy Formation is the initial postimpact deposit in the 85km-diameter Chesapeake Bay impact crater, which is centered under the town of Cape Charles, Virginia, USA. The formation comprises dominantly microfossil-rich, silty, marine clay, which accumulated during the final ~1.6myr of late Eocene time. At cored sites, the Chickahominy Formation is 16.8-93.7m thick, and fills a series of small troughs and subbasins, which subdivide the larger Chickahominy basin. Nine coreholes drilled through the Chickahominy Formation (five inside the crater, two near the crater margin, and two ~3km outside the crater) record the stratigraphic and paleoecologic succession of 301 indigenous species of benthic foraminifera, as well as associated planktonic foraminifera and bolboformids. Two hundred twenty of these benthic species are described herein, and illustrated with scanning electron photomicrographs. Absence of key planktonic foraminiferal and Bolboforma species in early Chickahominy sediments indicates that detrimental effects of the impact also disturbed the upper oceanic water column for at least 80-100kyr postimpact. After an average of ~73kyr of stressed, rapidly fluctuating paleoenvironments, which were destabilized by after-effects of the impact, most of the cored Chickahominy subbasins maintained stable, nutrient-rich, low-oxygen bottom waters and interstitial microhabitats for the remaining ~1.3myr of late Eocene time.
Additional Publication Details
Foraminiferal repopulation of the late Eocene Chesapeake Bay impact crater