The origin of the potassium-rich annular zones at the Bosumtwi impact structure, Ghana, investigated by field study, radiometric analysis, and first cosmogenic nuclide data

Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Niang, David Baratoux, Pierre Rochette, Regis Braucher, Wolf Uwe Reimold, Philippe Lambert, Dinna Pathe Diallo, Vincent Regard, Sebastien Carretier, Mark W. Jessell, Gayane Faye, Christian Koeberl

Version of Record online: 28 February 2022


“The 10.5-km-diameter, 1 Ma Bosumtwi impact structure in Ghana is one of the youngest, large impact structures known on Earth. The preservation of the morphology of its ejecta deposits, with an annular moat and outer ridge resembling those of rampart impact craters on Mars, makes Bosumtwi a remarkable impact structure on the African continent. An airborne radiometric survey of the southwestern part of Ghana reveals enigmatic circular feature enriched in potassium, coinciding with the crater rim and an outer ejecta ridge at Bosumtwi. The goal of this study is to investigate possible origins of these features, by impact processes (shock metamorphic effects, impact-induced hydrothermal systems) or postimpact surficial processes (erosion, weathering). The origin of these features is discussed here based on field observations, ground-based radiometric measurements, and first cosmogenic nuclide analyses (10Be). The data indicate that the rim and outer ridge were eroded more rapidly than the rest of the impact structure. Accordingly, the downward advance of the weathering fronts in the annular moat, after ejecta emplacement, are responsible for leaching of K from the lateritic residual observed at the surface. The Bosumtwi impact structure is, therefore, a valuable natural laboratory to investigate the factors controlling erosion and weathering processes in the Ashanti belt since impact 1 Ma ago. Simulations of vertical profiles of 10Be concentration further constrain local variations of the erosion rate. In light of this study, circular K anomalies in radiometric surveys might be indicative of potential impact structures in tropical regions.”