Presentations (Communicative Events)

Burckle abyssal impact crater: Did this impact produce a global deluge?

Abbott, Dallas Helen; Masse, W. Bruce; Burckle, Lloyd D.; Breger, Dee Lewis; Gerard-Little, Perri

We have found an impact crater that is likely < 6000 years old. Burckle crater is in the central Indian Ocean on the edge of a fracture zone at 30.87° S 61.36°E. The crater is 29±1 km wide and is the inferred source of layers with high magnetic susceptibility in 3 deep sea cores. Each layer goes to the top of the core. Two out of 3 of the cores have basal Pleistocene ages and the basal age of the third is unknown. The high susceptibility layers contain broken plagioclase, spinel periodotite, and chrysotile asbestos. One sample contains pure Ni with drops of oxidized Ni. Because pure Ni melts at 1453°C, it is very likely that the drops formed during an impact. The high susceptibility layers from 2 cores are over 5 times thicker than they should be for a 29 km wide source crater. We also find that a 29 km wide source crater cannot vaporize enough seawater to produce meters of rain, even in a restricted region between 4750 and 7250 km from the crater. Thus, we infer that Burckle crater was produced as part of a Shoemaker-Levy type impact of a comet. The fragmented comet also produced two other large impact centers, one in the northwest Pacific and another in the central eastern Pacific. Where the rainout from these impact centers overlaps, we see deluge events that are over a week long. The impact event also produced devastating tsunamis, winds, and associated social upheaval. We date the event to around 2807 B.C.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Marine Geology and Geophysics
Published Here
January 20, 2016


This is our own color, camera ready version of a paper that was published in the conference proceedings of the Conference Atlantis 2005. The paper in the conference proceedings is in black and white.