New discovery of two seismite horizons challenges the Ries–Steinheim double-impact theoryOPEN ACCESS 

Elmar Buchner, Volker J. Sach & Martin Schmieder

Scientific Reports 10 , 1–14


“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 potentially related to both impacts. The older seismite horizon, demonstrated to be associated with the Ries impact, is overlain by distal impact ejecta in situ, forming a unique continental seismite-ejecta couplet within a distance of up to 180 km from the crater. The younger seismite unit, also produced by a major palaeo-earthquake, comprises clastic dikes that cut through the Ries seismite-ejecta couplet. The clastic dikes may have formed in response to the Steinheim impact, some kyr after the Ries impact, in line with paleontologic results that indicate a time gap of about 0.5 Myr between the Ries and Steinheim events. This interpretation suggests the Ries and Steinheim impacts represent two temporally separate events in Southern Germany that, thus, 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-induced earthquakes may be underestimated.”