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Geology of Brushy Creek Impact Crater, St. Helena Parish, LA

Geology of Brushy Creek Impact Crater, St. Helena Parish, LA

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Published by etchplain
Reprint of Heinrich, P. V., 2003, Origin of a Circular Depression and Associated Fractured and Shocked Quartz, St. Helena Parish, LA. Transactions of the Gulf Association of Geological Societies. vol. 53, pp. 313-322.
Reprint of Heinrich, P. V., 2003, Origin of a Circular Depression and Associated Fractured and Shocked Quartz, St. Helena Parish, LA. Transactions of the Gulf Association of Geological Societies. vol. 53, pp. 313-322.

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Published by: etchplain on Aug 27, 2009
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03/24/2011

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31353rd Annual Convention
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
O
RIGIN
 
OF
 
A
C
IRCULAR
D
EPRESSION
 
AND
A
SSOCIATED
F
RACTURED
 
AND
S
HOCKED
Q
UARTZ
,S
T
. H
ELENA
P
ARISH
, LA
Paul V. Heinrich
Louisiana Geological Survey, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803,heinric@lsu.edu
A
BSTRACT
In 1996, geologic mapping of the Amite 1:100,000 quadrangle revealed an anomalous circulardepression, now called the “Brushy Creek feature” within southwestern St. Helena Parish,Louisiana. The Brushy Creek feature consists of a circular depression about two kilometers indiameter with a low and dissected rim. Petrographic study of sand from this feature revealed thepresence of both highly fractured and shocked quartz, not found in adjacent outcrops of theCitronelle Formation.A review of the regional geology of the area found no evidence of tectonic processes, e.g.,volcanism and salt diapirism, which could account for the development of this depression. Inaddition, the geomorphic setting of the Brushy Creek feature is incompatible with the develop-ment of siliciclastic karst that has created similar depressions, e.g., the Carolina Bays. At thistime, the Brushy Creek feature is hypothesized to be a dissected late, possibly terminal, Pleis-tocene meteorite impact crater.
I
NTRODUCTION
Between 1996 to 1997, R. P. McCulloh, the author, and J. Snead of the Louisiana GeologicalSurvey compiled a draft geologic map of the Amite 1:100,000 quadrangle (McCulloh et al., 1997).The preparation of this geologic map revealed an anomalous, 2-kilometer diameter, circular struc-ture within the Greensburg 7.5-minute quadrangle, southwestern St. Helena Parish, Louisiana.Because of resource constraints, this feature was not investigated further and was mapped as asingle polygon of “Quaternary undifferentiated.” For this study, the feature is named the “BrushyCreek feature” for Brushy Creek, which has its headwaters within this circular depression.Ridge and ravine topography, as defined by Hack (1960), characterizes the landscape of theCitronelle Formation within the region of the Brushy Creek feature. The ridge and ravine topogra-phy consists of alternating ridges and deeply incised valleys, which, except for the larger streamsand rivers, lack significant floodplains. Drainages within the region of the Brushy Creek featureexhibit a rectilinear pattern that in many places consist of prominent lineaments. Regional relief of the ridge and ravine topography is about 90 to 110 ft (27 to 34 m).This is an erosionally graded, humid-climate landscape that is in dynamic equilibrium with the
 
GCAGS/GCSSEPM
Transactions
 
Volume 53
2003314erosional processes that formed and are modifying it. Except for the concordant summits of thecrests of major interfluves, all pre-existing constructional topography has been destroyed. Instead,the variable resistance of local structure and lithology of the underlying bedrock control the loca-tion and trend of drainages and ridges within ridge and ravine topography (Hack, 1960). Within theregion of the Brushy Creek feature, McCulloh (2002, 2003) discussed the presence of numerous,prominent drainage alignments which he argued to be controlled by cryptic systematic fracturingof the Citronelle Formation.The Brushy Creek feature occurs as a noticeable circular “hole” within the ridge and ravinetopography that characterizes the surface of the Citronelle Formation within southeast Louisiana.This feature is roughly circular with a relief of about 50 ft (15 m) and a diameter of about 1.2 miles(2.0 km) (Fig. 1). The rim of the Brushy Creek feature exhibits a slight polygonal shape. The head-waters of Brushy Creek have breached the southeast rim of the feature and the northern rim isalmost breached by a ravine tributary of Chandler Branch. The center of this feature lies at about3405760N, 717870E, Zone 15, and 7 miles (11 km) southwest of Greensburg within St. Helena Parish,Louisiana.Erosion has sculpted regional ridge and ravine topography from fluvial sand and gravel of theCitronelle Formation (Campbell, 1971; Mossa and Autin, 1989). In general, the Citronelle Formationconsists primarily of varegated and mottled, poorly sorted, fine to very coarse, sandy gravel, grav-
Figure 1. Portion of the Greensburg 7.5 topographic quadrangle illustrating topographic expression of BrushyCreek feature. Open circles show location of samples associated with the Brushy Creek feature. “16SH”hasbeen dropped from sample numbers. For example, “”PD” is sample locality 16SHPD.
 Heinrich
 
31553rd Annual Convention
Baton Rouge, Louisianaelly sand, and sand containing beds of silt, clay, and mud. Typically, the beds are of limited verticaland lateral extent. According to Campbell (1971), the thickness of the Citronelle Formation is about300 to 350 ft (91 to 107 m) within the vicinity of the Brushy Creek feature.Locally, the Citronelle Formation consists of cross-bedded, massive, poorly sorted fine to coarsesand underlain by laminated clay and silt. Field investigations indicate that the sand consists of 30to 40 ft (9 to 12 m) of deeply weathered, reddish brown, fine to coarse, poorly sorted sand. In out-crops, the sand is typically massive. However, in an exposure on the edge of the Brushy Creek feature, locality 16SHPC, the Citronelle Formation is cross-bedded. As exposed in a Kentwood Brick and Tile Company brick pit immediately east of the Brushy Creek feature, at least 20 ft (6 m) of laminated silts and clays underlie these sands. These silts and clays consist of cyclic beds of meter-thick laminated silt that grades upward into laminated clay. Discussions with the staff of theKentwood Brick and Tile Company indicate that in their explorations for brick clay, they found thelaminated clays and silts to be absent in holes drilled within the interior of the Brushy Creek feature but present within holes drilled outside of its rim. Very little is known about the sediments underly-ing the laminated silt and clay beds.As classified by Folk (1980), the sand fraction of the Citronelle Formation varies regionally incomposition from quartzarenites to sublitharenites. The sand-size fraction consists of 90 to 97percent quartz. The remaining 3 to 10 percent consists of chert, quartzite, iron oxide, and heavyminerals. Feldspar is absent from both the sand and gravel fractions. The gravel consists largely of chert with lesser amounts of quartz, quartzite, and ironstone (Campbell, 1971).Underlying the Citronelle Formation are 6 to 7 miles (about 10 to 11 km) of Cenozoic to Meso-zoic sedimentary strata overlying continental crust stretched by the opening of the Gulf of Mexico(Sawyer et al., 1991). Within the area of the Brushy Creek feature, the upper 11,000 to 12,000 ft (3,350to 3,660 m) consist of Cenozoic sediments of the Midway, Wilcox, Claiborne, Jackson, and Vicksburggroups and undifferentiated, largely siliciclastic, Neogene strata. Within St. Helena Parish, thesestrata dip homoclinally to the southwest lacking indication of any major faulting or salt tectonics inthe vicinity of the Brushy Creek feature (Howe, 1962; Bebout and Gutiérrez, 1983).
M
ETHODOLOGY
An examination was made of the entire Brushy Creek feature with emphasis on the northernthird of the feature. The examination of the feature consisted of the description of exposures, exami-nation of gravel found in streams draining the feature, and collection of samples from such loca-tions.Only one exposure, the Gehee Section, locality 16SHPC, revealed a complete section of the distalrim of this feature. This exposure consists of an upper bed of 7 to 10 ft (2 to 3 m) of massive siltysand and sandy silt. At about 5 ft (1.5 m) below the surface, a zone about 8 in (20 cm) thick containsrounded, dime-size clasts of purple silty clay floating within a silty sand matrix. The purple color of the silty clay clasts indicates that they came from the Citronelle Formation. Developed within theupper part of the silty sand is the profile of the modern soil with pronounced A and B horizons. Atthe base of the sandy silt and lying directly on the underlying Citronelle Formation, the exposurecontains a 5 to 12 in (13 to 30 cm) thick gravelly mud containing abundant rounded clasts com-posed of mud, clay, and ironstone nodules. At this time, it is difficult to determine the origin of this bed. Within the Gehee Section, the gravelly mud bed overlies highly fractured and cross-beddedsand of the Citronelle Formation exposed within a ditch. It is deeply weathered saprolite. This unitis highly oxidized and shows well-developed gleying of the sand along abundant fractures and rootmolds. The Gehee Section is the only known exposure in which the Citronelle Formation is highlyfractured.Samples were collected from locations within the Brushy Creek feature. North of and adjacentto Louisiana State Highway 37, samples of the sediment composing the rim of the Brushy Creek feature were collected from surface exposures at localities 16SHPC, 16SHPD, and 16SHPT, and froman auger hole, locality 16SHPL. Within this auger hole, samples were taken at depths of 1.5, 3, and
 Heinrich

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