[meteorite-list] Well-Preserved Layer of Material Ejected From Chesapeake Bay Meteor-Strike Discovered
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon Aug 23 14:20:38 2004
Well-preserved layer of material ejected from Chesapeake Bay
meteor-strike discovered, report UGA researchers
Writer: Phil Williams, 706/542-8501, phil_at_franklin.uga.edu
University of Georgia
Contact: Michael Roden, 706/542-2416, mroden_at_uga.edu
August 23, 2004
Athens, Ga. - People in Georgia's Dodge and Bleckley counties have for
years picked up small pieces of natural glass called "Georgiaites,"
which were produced by an unknown asteroid or comet impact millions of
years ago. Just where these small, translucent green objects came from,
however, was unclear.
Now researchers at the University of Georgia, studying a kaolin mine in
Warren County, have found a layer of tiny grains, which indicate that
the grains and the Georgiaites were products of a recently discovered
impact that left a huge crater beneath the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
"We knew we had these tektites here, but we'd never found them in
place," said Michael Roden, a geologist and part of the research team.
"We believe this layer is further evidence that the Chesapeake Bay
impact was an enormous event with widespread consequences."
The research was published in the August issue of the journal Geology.
The work was spearheaded by UGA graduate student Scott Harris (now with
Brown University) in collaboration with Roden, Paul Schroeder and Steven
Holland of UGA, Ed Albin of Fernbank and Mack Duncan of J.M. Huber
Tektites are brown to green glassy objects, generally small and rounded,
and thought to be of extraterrestrial origin. The only other state in
the United States where tektites have been found in abundance is Texas.
Some 1,700 have been found in Georgia to date, and potassium-argon
geochronology has dated them to around 35 million years of age.
The Chesapeake Bay impact crater was only discovered about a decade ago,
but before the current discovery, there was no known deposition layer
from it extant, and it was unclear whether Georgiaites were the result
of the cataclysmic collision of the Chesapeake Bay bolide with the
Earth. ("Bolide" is a generic term for an impacting body.)
The now-unused kaolin mine in Warren County where the discovery was made
was near the sea's edge in ancient times. This former shore, now across
the central part of Georgia, is more or less coincident with the Fall
Line, and marks the place where ancient seas lapped the land. The impact
in the Chesapeake Bay clearly caused a huge amount of material, both
from the Earth and the asteroid, to become airborne, and the layer -
discovered at a depth of 25 feet in the kaolin mine - was probably laid
down by the event.
It was an active time: In the period between 34 million and 37 million
years ago, at least five comets and/or asteroids collided with the
Earth. Since some of the events may have caused climate alterations and
caused at least regional disruptions of ecosystems, knowing more about
the ejecta from the impacts is important.
The layer reported in Geology is perhaps the most easily accessible,
undisturbed layer of materials that probably came from the Chesapeake
Bay impact and can therefore add knowledge about that event. The search
for the layer, led by Harris, led to the discovery of so-called shocked
quartz - grains whose physical "thumbprint" mark them as having
originated from the extremely high pressures characteristic of an impact
Just how big the explosion was when this celestial visitor hit the Earth
is unclear, but Roden said it was many times bigger than such events as
the explosions of Mt. St. Helen's or even Krakatoa.
Received on Mon 23 Aug 2004 02:20:34 PM PDT