2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 93-12
Presentation Time: 11:05 AM


JAYE, Michael, Defense Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School, 1 University Circle, Monterey, CA 93943

We use Google Earth imagery to identify a comet impact site in the Southern Ocean. We analyze the effects, including the impact crescent and damage to the planet such as terrain deformations. We show that the 75 km wide comet nucleus created a noticeable impact trough that measures approximately 1000 km in length. The northern extent of this trough bears the comet nucleus materials. The comet impact location exactly corresponds to magnetic anomalies in the region, which we show in Google Earth overlays. Nucleus materials worn during the creation of the impact trough correspond to the most intense magnetic anomalies, as do minerals deposited in discernible mounds in the impact crescent. Comet-borne materials with varying magnetic susceptibilities were strewn by impact forces to create a debris field that extends roughly 1500 km to the north and northeast of the impact crescent.

Comet borne materials have already been recovered by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). In the late 1990s the IODP recovered core samples from depost mound sites interior and exterior to the impact crescent. We analyize the recovered materials’ photographs, magnetic susceptibility, and gamma counts from these cores and show that those interior to the impact crescent are very different from other IODP cores obtained from sites exterior to the impact crescent. Furthermore, we analyze core descriptions in the impact region from non-IODP organizations, and we found that minerals identified in these non-IODP cores within the impact crescent, as well as from cores situated within the debris field to its north, are consistent with those identified in Tempel 1 by the NASA Deep Impact mission. These minerals include olivine, spinel, carbonates, and iron-bearing compounds. We also find that manganese is an element common to most core descriptions in the comet impact region and therefore should be considered an important component of materials comprising the comet that struck in the Southern Ocean if not others. In addition, the similarity in materials comprising Tempel 1 to materials recovered from the comet impact region, coupled with Tempel 1’s orbit and the fact that comets are known to fragment, suggest that Tempel 1 could be a remnant of the comet that impacted the Southern Ocean.

We will estimate when the impact occurred and suggest other effects.

  • GSA 2014 Jaye Presentation Analyzing a Comet Impact and its Effects Using Google Maps and Google Earth.pptx (14.0 MB)