Target-projectile interaction during impact melting at Kamil Crater, Egypt

Agnese Fazio, Massimo D’Orazio, Carole Cordier, Luigi Folco

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 15 February 2016


“In small meteorite impacts, the projectile may survive through fragmentation; in addition, it may melt, and chemically and physically interact with both shocked and melted target rocks. However, the mixing/mingling between projectile and target melts is a process still not completely understood. Kamil Crater (45 m in diameter; Egypt), generated by the hypervelocity impact of the Gebel Kamil Ni-rich ataxite on sandstone target, allows to study the target-projectile interaction in a simple and fresh geological setting. We conducted a petrographic and geochemical study of macroscopic impact melt lapilli and bombs ejected from the crater, which were collected during our geophysical campaign in February 2010. Two types of glasses constitute the impact melt lapilli and bombs: a white glass and a dark glass. The white glass is mostly made of SiO2 and it is devoid of inclusions. Its negligible Ni and Co contents suggest derivation from the target rocks without interaction with the projectile (<0.1 wt% of projectile contamination). The dark glass is a silicate melt with variable contents of Al2O3 (0.84-18.7 wt%), FeOT (1.83-61.5 wt%), and NiO (<0.01-10.2 wt%). The dark glass typically includes fragments (from few μm to several mm in size) of shocked sandstone, diaplectic glass, lechatelierite, and Ni-Fe metal blebs. The metal blebs are enriched in Ni compared to the Gebel Kamil meteorite. The dark glass is thus a mixture of target and projectile melts (11-12 wt% of projectile contamination). Based on recently proposed models for target-projectile interaction and for impact glass formation, we suggest a scenario for the glass formation at Kamil. During the transition from the contact and compression stage and the excavation stage, projectile and target liquids formed at their interface and chemically interact in a restricted zone. Projectile contamination affected only a shallow portion of the target rocks. The SiO2 melt that eventually solidified as white glass behaved as an immiscible liquid and did not interact with the projectile. During the excavation stage dark glass melt engulfed and coated the white glass melt, target fragments, and got stuck to iron meteorite shrapnel fragments. This model could also explain the common formation of white and dark glasses in small impact craters generated by iron bodies (e.g., Wabar)."