Impact glasses in fallout suevites from the Ries impact structure, Germany: An analytical SEM study

  • Osinski G
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Abstract

Impact-generated glasses from fallout suevite deposits at the Ries impact structure have been investigated using analytical scanning electron microscopy. Approximately 320 analyses of glass clasts were obtained. Four glass types are distinguished on the basis of composition and micro- textures. Type 1 glasses correspond to the aerodynamically shaped glass bombs studied previously by many workers. Major oxide concentrations indicate the involvement of granitic rocks, amphibolites, and minor Al-rich gneisses during melting. Type 2 glasses are chemically heterogeneous, even within individual clasts, with variations of several wt% in most of the major oxides (e.g., 57–70 wt% SiO2). This suggests incomplete mixing of: 1) mineral-derived melts or 2) whole rock melts from a wide range of lithologies. Aluminium-rich clinopyroxene and Fe-Mg-rich plagioclase quench crystals are present in type 1 and 2 glasses, respectively. Type 3 glasses contain substantial amounts of H2O (~12– 17 wt%), low SiO2 (50–53 wt%), high Al2O3 (17–21 wt%), and high CaO (5–7 wt%) contents. This suggests an origin due to shock melting of part of the sedimentary cover. Type 4 glasses form a ubiquitous component of the suevites. Based on their high SiO2 content (~85–100 wt%), the only possible protolith are sandstones in the lowermost part of the sedimentary succession. Calcite forms globules within type 1 glasses, with which it develops microtextures indicative of liquid immiscibility. Unequivocal evidence also exists for liquid immiscibility between what are now montmorillonite globules and type 1, 2, and 4 glasses, indicating that montmorillonite was originally an impact melt glass. Clearly, the melt zone at the Ries must have incorporated a substantial fraction of the sedimentary cover, as well as the underlying crystalline basement rocks. Impact melts were derived from different target lithologies and these separate disaggregated melts did not substantially mix in most cases (type 2, 3, and 4 glasses and carbonate melts).

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