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Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:20 PM


MOON, Kevin E. and EVANS, Kevin R., Department of Geography, Geology, and Planning, Missouri State University, 901 South National Ave, Springfield, MO 65897,

Meteorite Crater is located 17.9 km west-southwest of Currant, Nevada in the northwestern part of Railroad Valley (N 38° 43.205’ W 115° 40.650’). It probably should be renamed Currant Crater because the origin of the structure previously has been questioned, and it remains suspect. The crater was discovered in the 1920’s. Past efforts have focused on attempts to find remnants of a meteorite by using magnets and metal detectors at the surface and in excavations within the crater; no recovered meteoritic material has been reported. Previous explanations for Meteorite Crater range from an impact origin to sinkhole development, ground-water sapping, and volcanism. Given its location south of Trap Spring Field, the potential exists that it may have been a hydrocarbon paleo-seep.

Our efforts are focused on mapping the crater and crater-fill materials. The crater is approximately 0.8 km east of the Pancake Range on a braided pediment surface that slopes eastward at approximately 3°; the elevation is 1,597 m, below a subtle shoreline at 1,640 m. The crater is sub-circular, 80.5 by 90.2 m, and approximately 7 m deep. The slope of the sides varies from 18–28°. A low berm-like feature, approximately 0.15 m high, is present on the east side of the crater. An intermittent stream cuts the west wall and drains into the crater; no outlet for the stream is present. A fan of alluvial gravel has prograded into the crater. Two distinct caliche layers, one with small clasts and the other with much larger clasts, are present just below the crater rim. The caliche appears to have been broken during crater formation. In a shaft excavation, 4 m deep, several layers of undeformed, flat-lying silt-rich sediments are present, indicating that deposition post-dated formation of the crater. Objectives for continued studies are to use ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to image crater-floor sediments, characterize development of the crater, examine comparable anomalous features that have developed in alluvial settings, and attempt to determine the origin. The outcome of future studies potentially will enhance our understanding of small impacts and their frequency of occurrence, or alternatively, help to elucidate features that commonly are mistaken for meteorite impacts.

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