Yilan crater, China: Evidence for an origin by meteorite impact

Ming Chen, Christian Koeberl, Dayong Tan, Ping Ding, Wansheng Xiao, Ning Wang, Yiwei Chen, Xiande Xie

Meteoritics & Planetary Science
First Published: 29 July 2021


“The Yilan crater is 1.85 km in diameter and is located in the northeast of China’s Heilongjiang Province. The crater is exposed in the Early Jurassic granite of the regional Paleozoic–Mesozoic granite complexes. The southern third of the crater rim is missing, but other rim sections are well preserved, with a maximum elevation above the present crater floor of 150 m. A drillcore from the center of the structure shows that the crater fill consists of 110 m thick lacustrine sediments underlain by a 319 m thick brecciated granite unit mainly composed of unconsolidated granite clasts and fragments. Melt products derived from the target granite, which include melted (and recrystallized) granite clasts, vesicular glass, and teardrop-shaped glass, were found in the brecciated granite unit at 218–237 m depth. Petrographic investigations of unmelted granite clasts in the brecciated granite unit from this depth interval show the presence of multiple sets of planar deformation features (PDFs) in quartz. Orientation measurements for 79 PDF sets in 38 quartz grains with a U-stage indicate the dominance of the ω {10 3} and π{10 3} orientations with a relative frequency of 39% and 18%, respectively. Only 7.6% of the observed PDFs remain unindexed. The observations of PDFs with the appropriate orientations are clear evidence of shock metamorphism and thus of an impact origin of the Yilan structure. Crystallite aggregates of coesite embedded in silica glass were found in the impact-melted granite clasts. The carbon-14 dates of possibly impact-produced charcoal and lacustrine sediments from the crater fill suggest a young age for the impact event of 0.0493 ± 0.0032 Ma.