Abbott, D.H., Nunes, A.A., Leung, I.S., Burckle, L. and Hagstrum, J.T., 2003, December. The Ewing impact structure: progress report. In AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts (Vol. 1, p. 0472).


We have previously reported on the discovery of the Ewing impact structure. It is 150 km in diameter and is located in the equatorial Pacific between the Clarion and Clipperton fracture zones. We have now mapped the distribution of microtektites and other types of impact spherules. The microtektite bearing cores form a half circle to the south with a straight edge that passes through the center of the crater. This pattern of tektite distribution matches the pattern that has been modeled for deep-water impacts. The impact melt bodies that are the source of the magnetic anomalies associated with the crater also lie in the southern half of the crater. Thus, the overall pattern of microtektite and impact melt distribution is consistent with an impactor on an inclined trajectory that arrived from the north and sprayed ejecta to the south. We have found an impact melt bomb that is part of the distal ejecta blanket. The impact melt bomb is about 10 cm by 6 cm in size. It contains unmelted marine sediment in the center that is surrounded by impact melt glass. So far, attempts to date glassy spherules and impact melt glass have been unsuccessful. Thus, our best estimate of the age of the impact is derived from diatom biostratigraphy, which gives an age of 7 to 11 Ma. In this time period, there are three major climatic excursions that might be related to the Ewing impact event. In most of the region, the 5000-meter water depth precludes using the more numerous foraminiferal zones and oxygen isotope stratigraphy to more precisely date the ejecta layer. Detailed studies of the mineralogy of the ejecta layer in core PLDS-111P have failed to find any quartz at all, shocked or unshocked. However, this core received its ejecta from the southern half of the crater, where the pre-impact basement was composed of normal oceanic crust. To the north, a minor fracture zone cuts the crater. This fracture zone is a potential location of plagiogranites, which are quartz normative. The fracture zone also contains local topographic highs that are shallow enough to retain foraminifera. By concentrating our efforts on carbonate rich cores that sample the ejecta from the northern half of the crater on or near the fracture zone, we hope to determine a more accurate biostratigraphic age for the Ewing impact event. We will also examine the mineralogy of these samples to see if quartz or opaque minerals are present. Both quartz and some opaques can show characteristic shock deformation features.