Upheaval Dome, in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, USA, is a unique structure on the Colorado Plateau. It has earlier been interpreted as an impact structure or as a pinched-off salt diapir. Some subrounded quartzose fragments were found in a ring depression near the eastern margin of the structure and, based on vesicularity and apparent flow structure, the fragments were interpreted by early researchers as 'impactites.' Our petrographic studies show no indication of a high-temperature history and are in agreement with a slow, low-temperature formation of the quartz nodules. Compositionally, the lag deposit samples are almost pure SiO2. They show no chemical similarity to any of the possible target rocks (e.g., Navajo Sandstone), from which they should have formed by melting if they were impactites. Instead, the samples have relatively high contents of elements that indicate fluid interaction (e.g., hydrothermal growth), such as As, Sb, Ba, and U, and show positive Ce anomalies. Thus, we interpret the 'lag deposit samples' as normal low-temperature (hydrothermally-grown?) quartz that show no indication of being impact-derived. In addition, a petrographic and geochemical analysis of a series of dike samples yielded no evidence for shock metamorphism or a meteoritic component.
Additional publication details
A petrographical and geochemical study of quartzose nodules, country rocks, and dike rocks from the Upheaval Dome structure, Utah