Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-5:30 PM
WELLS CREEK IMPACT CRATER: STRUCTURAL RE-EVALUATION IN LIGHT OF FORTY YEARS OF GLOBAL IMPACT STUDIES
The Wells Creek Crater is a 12km-wide, complex crater located in northwestern Tennessee on the Western Highland Rim. The crater once herald as a prime example for impact theory in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but ever since, it has been otherwise ignored by modern geologic analysis techniques. Since the discovery of Chixilub in the 1980s, a plethora of impact research has been published detailing new insights about crater structure formation and its significance. In light of what has been learned about the relationship between structure and impact and the new technologies to examine it, this study reanalyzed the structure of the Wells Creek Crater for possible evidence either overlooked or underanalyzed in the original 1968 study. Using remote sensing data, two gradient maps of the crater’s elevation and an elevation cross-section of the central peak were produced. An additional map overlaid the faults and geology mapped by Wilson and Stearns (1968) with one of the gradient maps to visualize how the two compare with each other. The cross section reveals that the central peak is off-centered toward the north and slight west, meaning the impact may have occurred obliquely. It also shows that the center of the crater is “bowl-like”; this has positive indication that the crater formed in a land environment rather than a marine environment. The maps display an apparent oblong “expression” surrounding the originally mapped crater that was never addressed by Wilson and Stearns (1968). The expression seemingly controls the flow patterns of several creeks in a fashion expected by an impact-formed feature. Conclusively, the central peak is asymmetrical, and circumstantially, the rest of the crater may be as well.