Amalia – Comanche Point Impact Structure

Tim McElvain 10/2011

Regional Map of the Amalia-Comanche Point Impact Structure

The impact structure is outlined in red the center of which is about 18 kilometers south of the Colorado state line and at the southern end of the

Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Colorado. The center of the structure is located N36.82967 and W105.31386 degrees, very close to the Comanche Point Mountain and about 18 kilometers south east of Amalia, New Mexico. The structure is approximately 20 kilometers in diameter and has multiple rings.

The above map is a more detailed topographic map of the Amalia-Comanche Point Impact Structure which lies within the outlined circle and centered very close to Comanche Point Mountain.

The center of the structure is slightly to the right of the satellite photograph, and it extends out to bend the Tertiary Poison Canyon Formation hogback as well as the Dakota and other older formation hogbacks.

The Amalia-Comanche Point structure outlined in the satellite map above is located on the east side of the San Louis Basin and on the west side of the Raton Basin. The two basins are similar in name only the Raton Basin is filled with the Cretaceous Intercontinental Seaway formations, and the San Louis Basin is part of the Rio Grande Rift and filled with rift deposits.

On the above more detailed map I have located where I have found some of the evidence of shock metamorphism detailed below.

Shatter Cones

The three photographs above are of shatter cones in granite, the flaring horsetail striations and grooves are on a rather flat surface, but are similar to shatter cones that I have found in other locations such as The Santa Fe Structure and The Beaverhead Structure. As in the two other locations, there are more conical shatter cones although more of an oval shape in cross section.

The above three photographs were taken of shatter cones in mica schist as in the granite the horse tail striations of the shatter cone are either on a rather flat surface or a flattened cone with an oval cross section.

The three photographs above are of shatter cones and/or casts of shatter cones in a hard, mafic, metamorphic rock.

Impact Melt

The above photograph is of the Comanche Point Mountain which is entirely impact melt with spectacular columnar jointing. The melt has been described as follows “Comanche Point, a 25-m.y.-old intrusion of low-silica biotite ryolite at the junction of Costilla and Comanche Creeks. Irregular shape of the intrusion is reflected by geometrically complex columnar (“cordwood”) joints that formed perpendicular to cooling surfaces.” Day 2: SUPPLEMENTAL
ROAD LOG 2C, FROM AMALIA TO COSTILY RESAVOIR, Lipman and Reed, 1984 New Mexico Geological Society Field Conference.

The two photographs of vertically orientated columnar jointing of the melt just 300 meters northwest of Comanche Point illustrate the geometrically complex nature of the melt-body.

The above photograph is a close-up of the melt illustrating flow structure.

Planer Microstructures
The following three photomicrographs of quarts grains from the Tertiary Poison Canyon Formation the youngest formation disturbed by the impact event, which corroborates the 25 m. y. year old date of the impact melt. The scale of the planar microstructures in the following photomicrographs of quartz grains fit the 1 to 5 micron spacing the lamellae of PDF’s. I have not measured the angle of the pole of the planar microstructure to the c-axis and

compared the result to the quartz index; however most of the grains have two sets of planar microstructures or planar fractures and I have yet to see evidence that low pressure lamellae can cause two or more straight planar sets within one quartz crystal. In either case the quartz grains in the Poison Canyon Formation and the Dakota Formation have never been buried deep enough or subjected for enough time, heat and pressure to cause Bohm lamellae to form within the crystal. I am therefore stating that the planar features seen below are the result of shock metamorphism.

The above photomicrograph is of a shocked grain in the Tertiary Poison Canyon Formation.

The above photomicrograph is of a shocked grain in the Tertiary Poison Canyon Formation.

The above photomicrograph is of a shocked grain in the Tertiary Poison Canyon Formation.

The above photomicrograph is of a shocked grain in the Cretaceous Dakota Formation.

The above photomicrograph is of a shocked grain in the Cretaceous Dakota Formation.

Summary
I believe the above evidence is sufficient to prove that the multi-ring Amalia-Comanche Point structure is the result of a bolide impact that took place about 25 m. y. ago. I have gleaned geological information from the two following New Mexico Geological Society Field Conference Guide Books: 1984 Rio Grande Rift: Northern New Mexico especially Day 2: SUPPLEMENTAL ROAD LOG 2C, FROM AMALIA TO COSTILY

RESAVOIR, Lipman and Reed, 1984 New Mexico Geological Society Field Conference. 1990 Tectonic Development of the Southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New Mexico especially the supplement to the First Day Road Log: PROTEROZOIC METAMORPHIC ROCKS NEAR COMANCHE POINT, NEW MEXICO, Jeffrey A. Grambling, Department of Geology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque New Mexico 87131