The Toms Canyon structure, New Jersey outer continental shelf: A possible late Eocene impact crater

  • Poag C
  • Poppe L
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The Toms Canyon structure [~20-22 km wide] is located on the New Jersey outer continental shelf beneath 80-100 m of water, and is buried by ~1 km of upper Eocene to Holocene sedimentary strata. The structure displays several characteristics typical of terrestrial impact craters (flat floor; upraised faulted rim: brecciated sedimentary fill), but several other characteristics are atypical (an unusually thin ejecta blanket; lack of an inner basin, peak ring, or central peak; bearing nearly completely filled with breccia). Seismostratigraphic and biostratigraphic analyses show that the structure formed during planktonic foraminiferal biochron P15 of the early to middle late Eocene. The fill unit is stratigraphically correlating with impact ejecta cored nearby at Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Site 612 and at Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Sites 903 and 904 (22-35 km southeast of the Toms Canyon structure). The Toms Canyon fill unit also correlates with the Exmore breccia, which fills the much larger Chesapeake Bay impact crater (90-km diameter; 335 km to the southwest). On the basis of our analyses, we postulate that the Toms Canyon structure is an impact crater, formed when a cluster of relatively small meteorites approached the target site bearing ~N 50 E, and struck the sea floor obliquely.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Crater
  • Impact
  • Seismic reflection
  • Stratigraphy
  • Structure

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  • C. Wylie Poag

  • Lawrence J. Poppe

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