Evidence for a large Paleozoic Impact Crater Strewn Field in the Rocky Mountains

Thomas Kenkmann, Kent A. Sundell & Douglas Cook

Scientific Reports
volume 8, Article number: 13246 (2018)


“The Earth is constantly bombarded by meteoroids of various sizes. During hypervelocity collisions a large amount of energy is coupled to the Earth’s atmosphere leading to disruption of decimeter to hundred meter-sized meteoroids. Smaller meteoroids may form meteorite strewn fields while larger initial bodies and high-strength iron meteoroids may form impact crater strewn fields. Impact crater strewn fields are ephemeral and none documented to date are older than about 63,500 years. Here we report on a newly discovered impact crater strewn field, about 280 Myr old, in tilted strata of the Rocky Mountains near Douglas, Wyoming. It is the oldest and among the largest of impact crater strewn fields discovered to date, extending for a minimum of 7.5 km along a SE-NW trajectory. The apparent width of the strewn field is 1.5 km, but the full extent of the crater strewn field is not yet constrained owing to restricted exposure. We probably see only a small section of the entire crater strewn field. The cascade of impacts occurred in an environment that preserved the craters from destruction. Shock lithification aided this process.”