Frictional melting processes and the generation of shock veins in terrestrial impact structures: Evidence from the Steen River impact structure, Alberta, Canada

Erin L. Walton, Thomas Sharp, Jinping Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Shock-produced melt within crystalline basement rocks of the Steen River impact structure (SRIS) are observed as thin (1-510 μm wide), interlocking networks of dark veins which cut across and displace host rock minerals. Solid-state phase transformations, such as ferro-pargasite to an almandine-andradite-majorite garnet and amorphization of quartz and feldspar, are observed in zones adjacent to comparatively wider (50-500 μm) sections of the shock veins. Shock pressure estimates based on the coupled substitution of Na+, Ti4+ and Si4+ for divalent cations, Al3+ and Cr3+ in garnet (14-19 GPa) and the pressure required for plagioclase (Ab62-83) amorphization at elevated temperature (14-20 GPa) are not appreciably different from those recorded by deformation effects observed in non-veined regions of the bulk rock (14-20 GPa). This spatial distribution is the result of an elevated temperature gradient experienced by host rock minerals in contact with larger volumes of impact-generated melt and large deviatoric stresses experienced by minerals along vein margins.Micrometer-size equant crystals of almandine-pyrope-majorite garnet define the shock vein matrix, consistent with rapid quench (100-200 ms) at 7.5-10 GPa. Crystallization of the vein occurred during a 0.1-0.15 s shock pressure pulse. Majoritic garnet, formed during shock compression by solid state transformation of pargasite along shock vein margins, is observed in TEM bright field images as nanometer-size gouge particles produced at strain rates in the supersonic field (106-108). These crystals are embedded in vesiculated glass, and this texture is interpreted as continued movement and heating along slip planes during pressure release. The deformation of high-pressure minerals formed during shock compression may be the first evidence of oscillatory slip in natural shock veins, which accounts for the production of friction melt via shear when little or no appreciable displacement is observed. Our observations of the mineralogy, chemistry and microtextures of shock veins within crystalline rocks of the SRIS allow us to propose a model for shock vein formation by shear-induced friction melting during shock compression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-270
Number of pages15
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume180
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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