The Ries-Steinheim crater pair and two major earthquakes – New discoveries challenging the double-impact theoryOPEN ACCESS 

Elmar Buchner, Volker Sach, Martin Schmieder

preprint, under review
Posted 27 Jul, 2020


“The Nördlinger Ries and the Steinheim Basin are widely perceived as a Middle Miocene impact crater doublet. We discovered two independent earthquake-produced seismite horizons in North Alpine Foreland Basin deposits. The older seismite horizon,associated with the Ries impact is overlain by in situ-preserved distal impact ejecta, forming a unique continental seismite-ejecta couplet within a distance up to 180 km from the crater. The younger seismite unit, also triggered by a major palaeo-earthquake, comprises clastic dikes that cut through the Ries seismite-ejecta couplet. The clastic dikes were likely formed in response to the Steinheim impact, some kyr after the Ries impact, in line with paleontologic results. With the Ries and Steinheim impacts as two separate events, Southern Germany witnessed a double disaster in the Middle Miocene. The magnitude–distance relationship of seismite formation during large earthquakes suggests the seismic and destructive potential of impact-earthquakes may be significantly underestimated.”