Meteorite impact crater positions and its unrestrained latitudinal distribution

S. James, Saranya R. Chandran, J. Aswathi, Devika Padmakumar, V. Aneeshkumar, G.K. Indu, K.S. Sajinkumar

Planetary and Space Science
Available online 17 September 2022, 105575



• 192 Earth impact craters, formed after 1100 Ma, were reconstructed to its paleo-position.
• The distance and displacement recorded by the craters due to plate tectonics is computed.
• Latitudinal distribution of craters was studied and showed no major dependency on latitudes.
• The latitudinal distribution was correlated with Moon and Mars.”

“The paleo-positions of terrestrial meteorite impact craters along with distance and displacement registered since formation due to plate tectonics were deciphered using GPlates, an interactive GIS-based plate tectonic reconstruction and modeling software. The results of the study are intriguing as several craters have traversed across the globe, both from the Eastern to Western hemisphere and from the Southern to Northern hemisphere, and vice versa. The oldest crater studied was Foelsche, which traversed from the Southern to Northern hemisphere and from the Western to Eastern hemisphere while covering a distance of 39080 km in the past 981 million years and recording a relatively shorter displacement of 10470 km. On the other hand, Jänisjärvi and Suvasvesi South have traveled longer distances (27781 and 29050 km, respectively) and are among the most displaced craters (17400 and 16988 km, respectively). Similarly, the paleo-position, distance, and displacement for all craters, with ages <1100 Ma, were computed in the study.

Based on the derived paleo-position, we have accessed the possibility of any selective distribution of craters across different latitudinal segments. As Earth is a planet that recorded dynamic variations in the terrestrial surface area across different geological ages, calculating the same was an arduous task. The land area within each of the three latitudinal segments, viz. 0–30°, 30–60°, and 60–90°, in which a crater formed was calculated for the time corresponding to an impact cratering event. This calculated land area within the respective latitudinal zone at each instance of a crater’s formation was then compared with the total land area on Earth. The results showed that 0–30° and 30–60° segments have equal crater frequencies whereas the 60–90° segment has a lesser frequency. The latitudinal crater distribution on Earth was then compared with Moon and Mars. The results revealed that there is a non-selective distribution of terrestrial impact craters across different latitudinal segments, indicating a non-perceivable latitudinal dependency for impact events.”