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Impact cratering and distal ejecta: the Australian record

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The Australian continent has one of the best-preserved impact-cratering records on Earth, closely rivalling that of North America and parts of northern Europe, and the rate of new discoveries remains high. In this review 26 impact sites are described, including five small meteorite craters or crater fields associated with actual meteorite fragments (Boxhole, Dalgaranga, Henbury, Veevers, Wolfe Creek) and 21 variably eroded or buried impact structures (Acraman, Amelia Creek, Connolly Basin, Foelsche, Glikson, Goat Paddock, Gosses Bluff, Goyder, Kelly West, Lawn Hill, Liverpool, Matt Wilson, Mt Toondina, Piccaninny, Shoemaker, Spider, Strangways, Tookoonooka, Woodleigh, Yallalie, Yarrabubba). In addition a number of possible impact structures have been proposed and a short list of 22 is detailed herein. The Australian cratering record is anomalously biased towards old structures, and includes the Earth's best record of Proterozoic impact sites. This is likely to be a direct result of aspects of the continent's unique geological evolution. The Australian impact record also includes distal ejecta in the form of two tektite strewn fields (Australasian strewn field, ‘high-soda' tektites), a single report of 12.1–4.6 Ma microtektites, ejecta from the ca 580 Ma Acraman impact structure, and a number of Archaean to Early Palaeoproterozoic impact spherule layers. Possible impact related layers near the Eocene–Oligocene and the Permian–Triassic boundaries have been described in the literature, but remain unconfirmed. The global K–T boundary impact horizon has not been recognised onshore in Australia but is present in nearby deep-sea cores.
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Keywords: Australia; impact crater; impact ejecta; impact structure; tektite

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Geological Survey of Western Australia, 100 Plain Street, East Perth, WA, 6004, Australia, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 January 2005

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