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Dietz_Sci131_1960_4

Dietz_Sci131_1960_4

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17
June
1960,
Volume
131,
Number
3416
Meteorite
Impact
Suggest
by
Shatter
Cones
in
Ro
Three
cryptoexplosion
structures
yield
l
evidence
of
natural
hypervelocity
sho4
Robert
S.
r
The
moon's
surface
is
peppered
with
with
some
30,000
telescopically
identi-
fiable
craters
considered
by
most
sci-
entists
to
be
of
meteoritic
origin.
On
theearth,
two
crater-forming
meteorites
have
struck
Siberia
in
the
present
cen-
tury.
To
go
back
into
the
Quaternary,
Meteor
Crater,
Arizona,
and
more
than
a
dozen
other
craters
in
various
parts
of
the
world
stand
as
mute
evidence
that
the
earth
has
not
been
spared
from
cosmic
collisions
(1).
Beals
(2)
has
de-scribed
several
impact
scars
or
"fossil
craters"
in
Canada
ofPaleozoic
age
and
older.
Under
theuniformitarian
principle,
it
would
seem
that
bedrock-
shattering
meteorite
impacts
are
a
proc-
ess
of
some
geologic
consequence,
so
that
one
should
find
meteorite
impact
scars
or
"astroblemes"
(a
word
from
Greek
roots
meaning
"star"
and
"wound
from
a
thrown
object
such
as
a
javelin
or
stone")
in
ancient
formations
if
cri-
teria
can
be
developed
for
their
recog-
nition.
Obviously,
this
thesis
would
be
most
convincing
if
one
could
find
a
largemeteoritic
mass
resting
in
the
middle
of
a
chaotically
jumbled
area
of
rock.
Few
persons
would
question
a
direct
cause-
and-effectrelationship.
But
meteorites
have
never
been
found
in
ancient
rock,
The
author
is
affiliated
with
the
U.S.
Navy
Electronics
Laboratory,
San
Diego,
Calif.
17
JUNE
1960
and
this
suggests
that
su
are
preserved
from
voli
a
hypervelocity
impact
ly.
In
the
absenceof
tb
formation
of
a
chaotic
ture,
extensive
brecciat
shattering
are
all
sugg
orite
impact
but
are
b
Structures
displaying
s
tics
are
known,
but
th
correctly
and
less
esote.
as
resulting
from
explc
volcanism
or
to
other
n
There
is,
however,
(
meteorite
impactwhich
differentiate
an
astro
structure
caused
by
a
sion
or
any
other
terrc
non.
A
giant
meteoril
which
is
not
appreciabl
passage
through
the
atn
on
the
average
strike
t
velocity
of
about
15,4
second.
A
principal
ef
pact
is
the
generation
o
high-velocity
shock
wa%
out
from
the
impact
p(
zero,"
and
engulfs
a
I
rock
before
it
finally
elastic
wave.
Volcanic
steam
explosions
involi
not
more
than
several
pheres,
so
it
is
extremea
shock
wave
can
be
d
SCIENCE
as
apart
of
volcanic
phenomena.
It
ap-
pears
that
a
lightning
bolt
would
be
a
possible
means
of
shocking
rock,
but
such
an
effect
would
be
extremely
lo-
calized.
Naturally
occurring
chemical
or
nuclear
explosions
can
almost
cer-
ed
tainly
be
entirely
ruled
out.
It
would
seem,
then,that
if
one
can
produce
evidence
that
a
large
volume
of
rockhas
ck
been
intensely
and
naturally
shocked,
this
would
constitute
definitive
evidence
of
a
meteorite
impact.
Fortunately,
at
new
least
under
favorable
conditions,
rocks
cks.
when
shockedappear
to
fractureinto
a
curious
pattern,
forming
shatter
cones
which
are
preserved
and
may
be
readily
)ietz
identifiedin
the
field.
Shatter
cones
are
striated
cup-and-
cone
structures
found
usually
in
carbo-
nate
rocks,
but
they
also
havebeen
ich
fragments
as
noted
in
shale
and
chert
(Figs.
1-3).
itilization
during
Presumably,
a
fine-grained
homogene-weather
rapid-
ousrock
like
dolomite
favors
their
de-
ie
meteorite,
thevelopment,but
-it
is
not
an
absolute
re-
,
circular
struc-
quirement.
The
striated
surfacesradiate
ion,
and
intense
from
small
parasitic
half-cones
on
the
gestive
of
mete-
face
ofa
master
cone-a
pattern
which
iardly
definitive.
serves
to
differentiate
these
striations
uch
characteris-
from
the
parallel
grooving
of
slicken-
ey
are
generally
sided
fault
planes.
The
apical
angles
of
rically
explained
the
cones
are
from
75
to
nearly
90
de-
)sions
related
to
grees.
The
size
ofthe
cone
apparently
nechanisms.
depends
upon
thethickness
of
the
bed
one
aspect
of
a
which
yieldsas
a
unit.
Some
cones
as
l
should
serve
to
small
as
1
centimeter
in
height
have
tbleme
from
a
been
collected
at
the
Crooked
Creek
volcanic
explo-
(Missouri)
deformation,
while
at
Kent-
estrial
phenome-
land
(Indiana)
cones
as
long
as-
2meters
te
(that
is,
one
have
been
seen
in
limestone
and
cones
y
decelerated
by
longer
than
12
meters
in
shale.
This
nosphere)
should
coning
is
apparently
atypeof
mechan-
the
earth
with
a
ical
failure
under
percussion
which000
meters
per
causes
a
stratum
to
become
thinner
and
Eect
of
this
im-
slightly
more
elongate
by
normal
fault-
of
an
intense
and
ing-that
is,
by
downward
slipping
of
ve
which
spreads
the
cup
relativeto
the
cone.
oint,
or
"ground
A
pertinent
question
is:
Do
shatter-
great
volume
ofcones
unquestionably
require
a
shock
decays
into
an
wave
for
their
formation?This
cannot-
explosions
are
be
categorically
answered,
but
it
is
clearving
pressures
of
that
they
are
quite
distinct
and
different
hundred
atmos-
fromtwo
geological
structures
which
-ly
doubtful
that
they
vaguely
resemble
and
with
which
eveloped
in
rock
they
might
be
confused-namely,
cone-
1781
 
in-cone
structures
and
slickensides.
Inthe
United
States,
shatter
cones
havebeenfound
onlyverynear
thecenter
of
some
of
the
structures
identified
in
the
1940
edition
ofthe
Strluctuiral
Map
of
the
United
Statesas
cryptovolcanic
structures
that
is,
deformations
formedby
a
hidden
explosion
somehow
con-
sidered
to
be
related
to
volcanism
al-
though
no
direct
evidence
of
this
vol-
canism,
such
as
volcanic
rocks
orhy-
drothermal
alteration,
is
found.Thus,
they
are
uniquely
present
in
structures
considered
to
have
beencausedby
a
naturalexplosion.
I
prefer
the
terml
cryptoexplosion
structures
to
cryptovol-
canic
structures,
so
as
not
to
exclude
the
possibility
of
an
extraterrestrial
origin.
Shattercones
have
never
been
re-
ported
from
normal
geological
situa-
tions,
so
it
wouLld
seem
that
they
are
not
formed
by
tectonic
stresses
or
by
simple
static
loading.
Nor
have
they
been
reported
from
rocks
known
to
have
been
engulfed
by
volcanicexplo-
sions.
So
far
as
artificial
detonations
are
concerned,
low-velocity
heaving
ex-
plosives
such
as
comniercial
dynamite
(detonation
wave
velocity,
about
5000
Ili/seC),
which
are
almost
exclusively
used
for
quarryingand
simiilar
opera-
tions,
commnonly
produLce
rude
cones,
bLut
these
lack
the
surface
markings
of
shatter
cones.
On
the
otherhand,
mili-
tary
explosivesof
high
detonation
veloc-
ity
and
high
hrisanice
or
shattering
effect,
like
RDX
(detonation
wave
ve-
locity,
8000
m/sec),
form
cones
with
surface
markings
closelyresenibling
thoseof
shatter
cones
but
not
so
per-
fectly
formed
as
shatter
cones.
By
ex-
trapolation,
it
would
seem
that
even
greater
brisance
than
that
of
RDX
is
needed
to
produce
good
shatter
cones.
Since
the
mean
geocentric
velocity
ofmeteorites
is
about
1
5,000
meters
persecond,
it
is
to
be
expected
that
ex-
treniely
intense
shattering
will
result
for
large
bolides
not
appreciably
cushioned
by
the
atmosphere.
One
may
conclude
that
rare
naturalconditions
are
required
to
produce
shatter
cones
but
that
such
conditions
couldbe
provided
by
a
large
meteoriteimpact.
(Note
added
in
proof:
A
visit
to
the
site
of
an
underground
nuclear
bomb
test
revealed
portions
of
largeshatter
cones
in
volcanic
tuff
like
those
in
Richniond
shale
at
Kentland
Quarry.
Nearby,
indurated
clay
beds
beneath
the
sites
of
large
test
explo-
sions
of
TNT
displayed
tent-shaped
features
very
similar
to
shatter
cones.
The
tent
shape
presumably
resulted
froni
a
cylindrically
spreading
shock
wave
producedby
the
cylindrical
high-
explosive
charge.)
Recently,
I
prepared
a
paper
(3)de-
scribing
the
four
localities
in
the
world
where
shatter
cones
had
been
discov-
ered-Steinheini
Basin,
Germany;
Wells
Creek
Basin,
Tennessee;
Kentland,
In-
diana;
and
Crooked
Creek,
Maryland.
In
that
paper
I
also
cited
five
additional
siniilar
structures
in
the
United
States.
An
invitation
froni
G.
Kuiper
to
study
the
moon's
surface
at
the
MacDonald
Observatory
afforded
nie
an
oppor-
tunity
to
visit
one
of
these
structures,
at
nearby
Sierra
Madera,
Texas.
Shattercones
were
found
to
be
excellently
de-
veloped
there.
With
this
new
stimulus,
I
quickly
visited
the
fourother
struc-
tures-Serpent
Mound,
Ohio;
Flynn
Creek,
Tennessee;
Jeptha
Knob,
Ken-
tucky;
and
Howell,
Tennessee.
Shattercones
werediscovered
at
the
first
two
sites
named.
Rock
outcrops
at
the
Howell
structureare
too
poorly
devel-
oped
to
permit
any
intensive
search
there.
The
search
at
Jeptha
Knob
was
not
exhaustive,
but
it
seenied
that
this
structure
is
probably
not
ofthe
same
type
as
the
others.
Sierra
Madera
Structure
Fig.
1.
Shatter
cones
in
Ordovician
limestone
at
Kentland
quarry,
Indiana.
Cones
are
nearly
I
meter
in
length
and
areoriented
upward.
Such
cones
are
believed
to
be
indicative
of
a
natural
shock
ofhigh
velocity
which
couldonlybegeneratedby
a
meteoriteimpact.
1782
This
circular(2-niile
diameter)and
intensely
deranged
structure
lies
20
niiles
south
of
Fort
Stockton,
Texas,
in
the
vicinity
ofthe
Glass
Mountains.
The
geology
of
this
uplift
hasbeen
described
by
King
(4)
as
an
intensely
SCIENCE,
VOL.
131
 
deformedand
brecciatedareaof
Per-
mian
strata
with
a
central
domal
uplift
surrounded
by
aring
syncline
and
pos-
sibly
a
ring
fold.
Pointing
outthe
damped
wave
form
of
this
structure,
Boon
and
Albritton
(5)
included
it
in
their
list
of
structures
possibly
created
by
meteoriteimpact.
However,
Shoe-
maker
(6)
doubts
that
detailed
mapping
will
support
the
conclusion
that
this
is
an
example
of
central
domal
uplift
and
ring
fold
form;
instead,
he
believesthat
the
central
dome
is
a
mass
of
megabreccia.
Wilson
(7)
reports
that
two
wells
drilledto
7000and
12,000
feet,
respectively,
revealed
no
evidence
that
volcanismplayed
any
part
in
the
formationof
this
structure.
A
core
at
8000
feet
revealed
only
moderate
dips,
and
this
suggests
that
the
structure
may
tend
todie
out
with
depth.
A
field
trip
to
Sierra
Madera
in
Oc-
tober
1959
revealed
the
frequent
occur-
rence
of
shatter
cones;
thus,
this
be-
came
the
fifth
localityin
the
world
in
which
they
are
known.Although
cones
in
thearea
are
distinctive
andnumer-
ous,
shatter-coning
of
rock
there,as
elsewhere,
is
a
subtle
characteristic
so
it
is
not
surprising
that
others
have
not
previously
reported
them.
The
shatter-
ing
is
more
extensive
at
Sierra
Madera
than
at
any
other
locality
where
shatter
cones
havebeen
found,
although
the
rocks
are
not
as
intensively
shatteredthere
as
at
Wells
Creek
Basin.
The
first
fragmentwas
discovered
in
the
float
of
a
dry
creek
on
the
flank
of
the
struc-ture.
Even
cone
fragments
no
larger
than
one's
thumb
areso
distinctive
that
they
are
immediately
identifiable.
Dur-
ing
two
days
ofsearch
literally
thou-sandsof
shatter
cones
and
cone
frag-
mentswere
seennearthe
center
of
the
structure.
Usually
these
were
developed
in
thin
beds
lying
between
more
mas-
sive
strata,
but
sometimes
they
were
present
in
thethicker
beds
as
well.
Serpent
Mound
Structuire
I
visited
this
highlyderanged
struc-
ture
in
November
1959
to
search
forshatter
cones.
I
examined
several
periph-
eral
areas,
including
a
quarry
which
revealed
a
large
mass
of
what
may
be
explosion
breccia,
but
I
found
no
shat-
ter
cones.
I
then
visited
theabsolute
center
of
this
circular
deformation
and
began
an
intensive
search
forshatter
cones.
No
outcrops
are
exposed,
so
it
17
JUNE
1960
was
necessary
to
resort
to
breaking
open
such
residual
boulders
as
could
be
found.
Eventually
a
boulder
was
split
which
clearly
revealed
these
cones.
Sub-
sequently,
in
a
periodof
two
days,
shatter
cones
were
found
in
about
20
boulders,or
in
a
ratio
of
about
one
in
each
25
boulders
split
open.
Boulders
containing
shatter
cones
were
readily
split
asunder,
while
others
were
dif-
ficult
to
break
open.
Since
cones,
as
always,
werefoundonly
in
the
imme-
diate
vicinity
ofthe
structure'scenter,
it
wouldseem
that
the
shattering
as-
sociated
with
any
suchcryptoexplosion
structure
is
concentrated
near
ground
zero,
although
the
rocks
are
heaved
up
overa
much
larger
area.
Serpent
Mound
was
first
mapped
and
described
in
1920
byBucher
(8),
who
considered
it
to
be
cryptovolcanic
and
similar
to
the
SteinheimBasin
structure
in
Germany;
however,
hewas
not
aware
of
the
presence
of
shatter
cones
like
those
already
known
then
at
Steinheim,
the
type
locality
for
them.
Flynn
Creek
Structure
This
deformation
was
originally
de-
scribed
by
WilsonandBorn
(9),
who
considered
that
it
was
created
by
a
cryptovolcanic
explosion.
Wilson
(10)
now
has
revised
this
opinion,
attribut-
ing
the
origin
of
hthe
structure
toa
meteorite
impact.
With
C.
W.
Wilsonand
R.
Stearns,
I
visited
the
deforma-
tion
in
November
1959.
We
discovered
some
shatter
cones
in
a
thin
bedalong
a
new
road
cut
not
far
from
the
struc-ture's
center;
thus,
this
became
the
seventh
known
locality
for
shatter
cones.
Although
these
shatter
cones
are
poorexamples,
the
identification
is
un-
questionable.
Probably
a
more
detailed
search
would
reveal
more
distinctive
beds.
Meteor
Crater
The
present
theory
would,
of
course,
be
more
convincing
if
shatter
cones
were
found
at
well-established,
modern
meteor
craters.
With
this
in
mind,
I
ex-
amined
the
rocks
at
Meteor
Crater,
Arizona;
thesearch
was
byno
means
exhaustive,
but
no
shatter
cones
were
found.
If
cones
are
in
fact
completely
absent
from
the
formations
exposed
at
Meteor
Crater,
this
may
be
due
to
one
of
several
causes.
For
example,
the
rocks
immediately
beneathground
zero
are
now
covered
with
lake
beds.
An-
other
possible
explanation
lies
in
the
considerable
deceleration
by
the
atmos-phere
of
comparatively
small
crater-
forming
meteorites.
The
300-ton
Sik-
hote
Alinmeteorite
presumably
entered
the
atmosphere
at
a
velocity
of
about15,000
metersper
second,
but
it
struck
Fig.
2.
A
group
of
shatter
cones
in
Knoxville
dolomite
from
the
Wells
Creek
Basin
cryptoexplosion
structure
in
Tennessee.
The
characteristic
parasitic
coning
on
the
master
cone
and
the
common
orientation
of
many
interlocking
cones
is
clearly
dis-
played.
A
single
cone
is
shown
below.Scale
in
centimeters.
1783

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