Single crystal (U-Th)/He dating was applied to 24 apatite and 23 zircon grains from the Wetumpka impact structure, Alabama, USA. This small approximately 5-7.6km impact crater was formed in a shallow marine environment, with no known preserved impact melt, thus offering a challenge to common geochronological techniques. A mean (U-Th)/He apatite and zircon age of 84.4±1.4Ma (2σ) was obtained, which is within error of the previously estimated Late Cretaceous impact age of approximately 83.5Ma. In addition, helium diffusion modeling of apatite and zircon grains during fireball/contact, shock metamorphism, and hydrothermal events was undertaken, to show the influence of these individual thermal processes on resetting (U-Th)/He ages in the Wetumpka samples. This study has shown that the (U-Th)/He geochronological technique has real potential for dating impact structures, especially smaller and eroded impact structures that lack impact melt lithologies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Space and Planetary Science