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Original size of the Vredefort structure, South AfricaThe Vredefort structure is located approximately 120 km southwest of Johannesburg, South Africa, and is deeply eroded. Controversies remain on the origin of this structure with the most popular hypotheses being: (1) by impact cratering about 2.0 Ga; (2) as a cryptoexplosion structure about 2.0 Ga; and (3) by purely tectonic processes starting at about 3.0 Ga and ending with the Vredefort event at 2.0 Ga. In view of recent work in which the granophyre dikes are interpreted as the erosional remants of a more extensive impact melt sheet, injected downward into the underlying country rocks, the impact origin hypothesis for Vredefort is adopted. In order to estimate the original dimensions of the Vredefort impact structure, it is assumed that the structure was initially circular, that its predeformation center corresponds to the center of the granitic core, and that the pre-Vredefort geology of the area prior to approximately 2.0 Ga ago is as suggested by Fletcher and Reimold. The spatial relationship between shock metamorphic effects, the shock pressures they record, and the morphological features of the crater were established for a number of large terrestrial craters. The principles of crater formation at large complex impact structures comparable in size to Vredefort were also established, although many details remain unresolved. An important conclusion is that the transient crater, which is formed directly by excavation and displacement by the shock-induced cratering flow-field (i.e., the particle velocity flow field existing in the region of the transient crater but behind the initial outgoing shock front), is highly modified during the late stage processes. The original transient crater diameter lies well within the final rim of the crater, which is established by structural movements during late-stage cavity modification.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Therriault, A. M. (Houston Univ. TX, United States)
Reid, A. M. (Houston Univ. TX, United States)
Reimold, W. U. (Witwatersrand Univ. Johannesburg, South Africa)
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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IDRelationTitle19940015909Analytic PrimaryWorkshop on the Martian Northern Plains: Sedimentological, Periglacial, and Paleoclimatic Evolution19940016163Analytic PrimaryTwenty-Fourth Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Part 3: N-Z