Transient and disruption cavity dimensions of complex terrestrialimpact structures derived from magnetic data

Mark Pilkington Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Alan R. Hildebrand Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
November 2003.
Accurate transient and disruption cavity dimensions are critical for estimating the energy release associated with impact. Transient and disruption cavity size can, in principle, be inferred from morphometric relationships based on crater diameter. However, locating the crater rim can be difficult for eroded terrestrial craters, and existing morphometric relationships are mostly based on observations of extraterrestrial craters where morphologic features at best provide imprecise constraints on the collapsed disruption cavity margin. Fortunately, magnetic survey data collected over terrestrial impact structures demonstrate that collapsed disruption cavity size can be estimated directly from changes in the magnetic anomaly character. A lower bound on this parameter can be defined by the outer limit of short-wavelength, intense magnetic anomalies produced by impact melt and/or suevite deposits. An upper bound is given by the inner limit of magnetic anomaly trends associated with the pre-impact target rock configuration. Using published values of crater diameters (D) and values of collapsed disruption cavity diameters (D CDC ) derived from magnetic data for 19 complex terrestrial impact structures, we derive the relationship D CDC = 0.49D. These data and the possibility of geometrical similarity in crater collapse suggest that this relationship is independent of complex crater size over more than a decade of size variation.

From: Proceedings of the Symposium on Planetary Cratering Mechanics, Flagstaff, Ariz., September 13-17, 1976.



Innes, M. J. S., Recent advances in meteorite crater research at the Dominion Observatory, Ottawa, Canada. 1964


Deep Bay Crater magnetic variations (Sander 1964).


Bouguer gravity map showing the location of the Glover Bluff disturbed area (gravity data from Koenen, 1956). Contours in milligals. B, Ground magnetic map showing the location of the Glover Bluff disturbed area (magnetic data from Koenen, 1956). Contours in gammas.


The magnetic studies performed by the Geological Survey of Canada document that there is a minimum magnetic disturbance within the impact structure, here outlined by the circle on the aeromagnetic map (Grieve 2006).


Lake Wanapetei magnetic survey (2002).
A shallow magnetic survey was run in August 2002. It indicated a circular low approximately 2.5 km wide and placed over the greatest depths of the lake (>100m). It is therefore not known whether the magnetic low can be absolutely attributed to an impact structure or whether it is due to the large water depths. This magnetic low however is slightly more south than the location of the gravity low. The estimated maximum and minimum sizes for the impact crater are indicated.


Combined results of two magnetic surveys performed using the GEM Systems GSM 19-TW. This represents the diurnally corrected data. Dense vegetation along the southern half of the grid made surveying slightly more difficult. A large magnet was found at the large positive anomaly on the NW crater rim (one of three found to date, likely left behind by meteorite hunters). With the exception of the magnet, large meteorites, about several hundred grams each, were found at all the major anomalies. Several other meteorites of similar scale were recovered from additional localized anomalies evident only in the raw data.



Regional shaded relief map of residual magnetic anomaly field of the Can-Am structure located within Lake Huron.

Can-Am vertical derivative of residual magnetic anomaly field. G.F. = Grenville front.


A. Total magnetic intensity (TMI) B. Residual magnetic field map produced by subtraction of 200 m upward continued grid.


A strongly negative magnetic anomaly coincides with Charron Lake, Manitoba. D. H. Hall (University of Manitoba) calculated that the removal of a block of the slightly magnetic country rock granite would produce the negative anomaly over the lake.
Lake Charron, top centre, contains a very strong magnetic anomaly (Natural Resources Canada).


Location of coreholes in the High Rock Lake structure magnetic map and of cross-section A-A’ (after McCabe, 1982).


Magnetic contour map of vicinity of Merewether (J. Vise and L.I. Cowan).


The type of magnetic field change, a negative magnetic anomaly of ~80nT centered over the crater, is consistent with that found at other impact sites. The model suggests it is 3.4 km wide and the undisturbed bedrock is at ~750 m (Unpublished geomagnetic and electrical survey report Energy Mines and Resources, Earth Physics Branch (GSC) by J.F. Clark). Courtesy of Dr. James Whitehead, Planetary and Space Science Centre, University of New Brunswick. Aeromagnetic Chart was researched and forwarded to me by fellow RASC member Eric Briggs.



Generalized geological map, showing sampling sites (large dots) of the Croker Island Complex, Lake Huron, Ontario. Older rocks are stippled and younger Paleozoic rocks are ruled. Total magnetic contours, with values in gammas, outline the circular plan of the complex. Map prepared from Card (1965). Inset map shows general location of the Croker Island Complex in Lake Huron. (PALMER, 1969)


Aeromagnetic map of the Manitou Island complex (from ODM-GSC 1965c) Abstract, (Rowe 1954) Two concentric fenitic zones comprise the outer part of the complex : 1 ) an outer zone of quartz fenite as much as 400 feet wide ; and 2 ) an inner zone of aegirine-potassic feldspar fenite as much as 1,500 fee t wide .