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Research program on the Manson impact structure, IowaAt or near the end of the Cretaceous, at least two large impact events occurred in the western hemisphere. One impact formed the 180-km diameter Chicxulub crater on the northern tip of the Yucatan peninsula. Another formed the 35-km diameter Manson structure in western Iowa. Several lines of evidence, including the chemical and isotopic composition of glass found in the K/T boundary layer at sites in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region, the regional variation in thickness and the size of spherules in the K/T boundary layer, and indications at and near the boundary of disturbance and deposition of beds by giant waves in the Gulf of Mexico, point to Chicxulub as a major source of K/T boundary material, including a lower layer of clay at K/T boundary sites in western North America. The size, abundance, and mineral and lithic composition of shocked grains from an upper K/T boundary layer found at western North American sites, on the other hand, point to Manson as a possible source crater. More than one impact seems to be indicated by the K/T boundary stratigraphy in western North America, and present constraints on the age of the Manson structure suggest that it, as well as Chicxulub, may be a K/T boundary crater. Multiple craters produced over a relatively short interval of time are much more likely to have been formed by impact of comets rather than by impact of asteroids. Among likely mechanisms that could have produced multiple craters at or near the time of the K/T boundary are as follows: (1) splitting of a comet shortly before impact with Earth (impacts may have been spaced over about an hour), (2) fragmentation of a very large, Sun-grazing, periodic comet to form a compact stream of comets that intercepted the Earth's orbit (impacts may have been spread over about a century), and (3) perturbation of the Oort comet cloud by a passing massive object to form a comet shower in the inner solar system (impacts may have been spread over about a million years). Only in the first two cases are the impacts likely to have been close enough in time to contribute to the observed K/T boundary layers. All mechanisms could have produced many more than two craters.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Shoemaker, E. M. (Geological Survey Flagstaff, AZ, United States)
Roddy, D. J. (Geological Survey Flagstaff, AZ, United States)
Anderson, R. R. (Geological Survey Iowa City, IA., United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: Lunar and Planetary Inst., Twenty-Fourth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Part 3: N-Z
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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