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Are Impact Craters Useful for Minerals Mining.

Are Impact Craters Useful for Minerals Mining.

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The enrichment of heavy metals in the outer crust appears to be the result of extra-terrestrial impact especially in the earlier part of the history of the earth. Impact Structures are not just some special features; they are to be recognized as the result of normal processes operating on the earth and have to be studied in detail with all care to locate them. In the present age where satellite images and aerial photographs on different scales are available, such studies are specially warranted.
The enrichment of heavy metals in the outer crust appears to be the result of extra-terrestrial impact especially in the earlier part of the history of the earth. Impact Structures are not just some special features; they are to be recognized as the result of normal processes operating on the earth and have to be studied in detail with all care to locate them. In the present age where satellite images and aerial photographs on different scales are available, such studies are specially warranted.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi on Aug 24, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/16/2013

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Are Impact Craters Useful?
By
Dr. Nitish PriyadarshiGeologist76,circular road,Ranchi-834001India.Email:nitish.priyadarshi@gmail.com
Terrestrial impact craters are important geological and geomorphological objects that aresignificant not only for scientific research but for industrial and commercial purposes.The structure may contain commercial minerals produced directly by thermodynamictransformation of target rocks (including primary forming ores) controlled by somemorphological, structural or lithological factors and exposed in the crater (Masaitis,1992). Iron and uranium ores, nonferrous metals, diamonds, coals, oil shales,hydrocarbons, mineral waters and other raw materials occur in impact craters.Terrestrial impact craters are relatively new objects for multi disciplinary investigations.Their discovery and study represents one of the most interesting episodes in the history of geological science.
 
Economic deposits associated with terrestrial impact structures range from world-class to relatively localized occurrences.
The more significant deposits are introducedunder the classification : progenetic, syngenetic or epigenetic, with respect to the impactevent.
 
 Natural impact craters are the result of the hypervelocity impact of an asteroid or cometwith a planetary surface. Impact is an extraordinary geological process involving vastamounts of energy, and extreme strain rates, causing immediate rises in temperature and pressure that produce fracturing, disruption and structural redistribution of targetmaterials. Some economic deposits of natural resources occur within specific impactstructures or arc, in someway, impact related. Masaitis (1992) noted approximately 35known terrestrial impact structures that have some form of potentially economic naturalresource deposits.In a review of the economic potential of terrestrial impact structures, Grieve and Masaitis(1994) reported that there were 17 known impact structures that have produced someform of economic resources.Impact cratering must be one of the most spectacular displays ever witnessed in the solar system. Although the ancient Indian astronomers, the ancient Vedic texts and the poetswho have chronicled the history of India in the great Ramayan and Mahabharata,described heavenly events in the past in lines of great poetic beauty, the subject has notevoked much interest in modern generation of geoscientists. India has a hoary tradition of study of astronomical bodies, but these studies have come to be neglected, consideredmore as myths deserving no serious attention (Radhakrishna,2008.)Earth is a part of the solar system and solar gaseous matter in the form of planetesimalsfloated and orbited in the region between planets. The largest of these planetesimalscould be as large as 1000 km in diameter. These planetesimals, although part of the solar nebula, may not all have had similar chemical composition. It is possible some planetesimals formed in special zones of metal enrichment. One possibility of the specialconcentration of metals to a specific region on earth could be due to impact of suchmetal–rich asteroids hitting the earth especially during its early history (Radhakrishna,2008). They had the same composition as the earth’s mantle but with additional attributeof having segregated metals such as iron, nickel, chromium and gold in the form of metaldroplets. This is very likely in view of the abnormal conditions of enormous heat and pressure prevailing which permits segregation in asteroids. Such asteroids when theystruck the earth gave rise to anomalous concentration of metals at points where theystruck. If this view is considered feasible, the importance of the study of impact structuresas a possible source of minerals and metals of economic importance will become evident.It is reported that a German Professor, Gerhard Schmidt from the University of Mainz has been investigating surface samples from impact sites for highly siderophile elements richin elements like gold and PGE (Platinum Group Elements) and concluded that the metalshave a Cosmochemical source (Times of India, 24 Sept. 2008, p.19).
The enrichment of heavy metals in the outer crust appears to be the result of extra-terrestrial impact especially in the earlier part of the history of the earth. ImpactStructures are not just some special features; they are to be recognized as the resultof normal processes operating on the earth and have to be studied in detail with allcare to locate them. In the present age where satellite images and aerial photographson different scales are available, such studies are specially warranted.
 
According to the currently accepted theory, the starting point of the Universe was the BigBang which occurred some 12-15 billion years ago. By 4,600 m.y., the released energyhad evolved into several galaxies, one of which was the solar system with the Sun at itscentre and a group of planets revolving round it. Planet Earth was one such accumulationof planetary solar dust.Such of the material which did not segregate as planets is believed to have floated inouter space and continued to orbit as planetary debris and is recognized as asteroids andcomets. Individual asteroids could be as large as 1000 km in diameter. When forced outof their orbits, they collide with near by planets, the impact carving huge circular hollows. The pock-marked face of the Moon, disfigured by circular basins of varioussizes, is evidence of this early history of bombardment which the planets went through.Greenstone belts on Earth were probably the result of bombardment similar to lunar maria. It is reasonable to assume that earth, too, went through a similar process of brutal battering which destroyed the originally formed crust. What we now see appears to be asecondary crust largely made up of material derived from extra-terrestrial sourcessubjected to further erosion and tectonic change.The oldest components which we recognize on this secondary (?) crust today are largelyigneous, made up of an unusual rock type called Komatiite and its variants, cherts, andgraphite schists which, in all likelihood, represent material derived from outer space asremnants of the early phases of bombardment.We should be thankful for the keen minds of the investigators who first recognized thesignificance of the circular depressions surrounded by rims that result from meteoriteimpact. We should remember also that these gifts from space were used by people in theearly stage of human evolution. The fragments of iron meteorites, along with impactglasses and tektites, were used for making tools and for ceremonial purposes. In somecases, the impactites ( suevites and tagamites) are used as building materials. The Rathausand Church of St. George’s in Nördlingen (Ries basin), together with the RochechouartCastle (Rochechouart astrobleme, France) are magnificent examples of the application of Suevite for wall blocks and architectural detail. In many astroblemes the allogenic breccias, and the blocks of dense rocks in them, are utilized quarrying building stone androad materials. Pure silica which originated from shocked sandstone was mined for glass production in Meteor Crater, Arizona.Moldavites are tektite glasses that are most probably the produce of ejecta from Ries basin. They are well known as the raw material for the manufacture of fashiondecoration. Every women wearing accessories made from moldavites will no doubt givea positive answer to the question, ‘Are impact craters useful?”.For the present, the assessment of the use of impact craters and their study has tworelated aspects in terms of their importance to modern society. On one hand, there is the possibility of direct industrial and economic use, while on the other hand, knowledge

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