One Great Force Leaves Its Mark Across the Solar System: Large Meteorite Impacts
Some fifty years after the emergence of impact cratering studies as a distinct discipline within the geosciences, impact cratering is now recognized as a fundamental process contributing to the formation and evolution of all bodies in the Solar System. In the tradition of previous Geological Society of America Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution Special Papers, this updated volume relates new discoveries of possible impact structures and confirmation of others.
With 32 chapters, Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution IV is a widely applicable source book on impact crater processes. The volume features studies of planetary cratering using both remote sensing analysis and numerical modeling; a range of geological, geophysical, and remote sensing studies of terrestrial crater structures; and multidisciplinary laboratory investigations of natural and experimentally produced impactites.
In the book’s introduction, editors Roger L. Gibson of the Impact Cratering Research Group of the University of the Witwatersrand and Wolf Uwe Reimold of the Museum für Naturkunde–Leibniz Institute, Humboldt University Berlin, reflect on the various stages through which their chosen discipline has evolved to its present, multifaceted, form. The history begins in the 1960s, when “systematic studies of lunar surface images and of terrestrial craters prompted by the race for the Moon delivered the first quantitative morphological datasets on impact craters.”
With the technical advances of the twenty-first century, the Gibson and Reimold note, “the number of newly proposed terrestrial impact craters has accelerated enormously.” Hundreds of proposed but not yet confirmed impact structures are listed in various databases, far exceeding the confirmation rate, and only 176 impact structures are currently listed as confirmed by the Earth Impact database. “Central to this dichotomy,” and to much disagreement within the discipline, note the editors, “is that confirmation of an impact origin requires other proof, besides the initial observation of a geophysical or remote sensing observation of a circular feature.”
Through field work, modeling, laboratory investigations, and more, multidisciplinary teams of geologists and planetary scientists continue their efforts to understand this most ubiquitous force in planetary formation and evolution.
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