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I. Impact Spallation Experiments: Fracture Patterns and Spall Velocities. II. Craters in Carbonate Rocks: An Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Analysis of Shock Damage


Polanskey, Carol Ann (1989) I. Impact Spallation Experiments: Fracture Patterns and Spall Velocities. II. Craters in Carbonate Rocks: An Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Analysis of Shock Damage. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/3rgr-f070.


This work is divided into two independent papers.


Spall velocities were measured for nine experimental impacts into San Marcos gabbro targets. Impact velocities ranged from 1 to 6.5 km/sec. Projectiles were iron, aluminum, lead, and basalt of varying sizes. The projectile masses ranged from a 4 g lead bullet to a 0.04 g aluminum sphere. The velocities of fragments were measured from high-speed films taken of the events. The maximum spall velocity observed was 30 m/sec, or 0.56 percent of the 5.4 km/sec impact velocity. The measured velocities were compared to the spall velocities predicted by the spallation model of Melosh (1984). The compatibility between the spallation model for large planetary impacts and the results of these small scale experiments are considered in detail.

The targets were also bisected to observe the pattern of internal fractures. A series of fractures were observed, whose location coincided with the boundary between rock subjected to the peak shock compression and a theoretical "near surface zone" predicted by the spallation model. Thus, between this boundary and the free surface, the target material should receive reduced levels of compressive stress as compared to the more highly shocked region below.


Carbonate samples from the nuclear explosion crater, OAK, and a terrestrial impact crater, Meteor Crater, were analyzed for shock damage using electron paramagnetic resonance, EPR. The first series of samples for OAK Crater were obtained from six boreholes within the crater, and the second series were ejecta samples recovered from the crater floor. The degree of shock damage in the carbonate material was assessed by comparing the sample spectra to spectra of Solenhofen limestone, which had been shocked to known pressures.

The results of the OAK borehole analysis have identified a thin zone of highly shocked carbonate material underneath the crater floor. This zone has a maximum depth of approximately 200 ft below sea floor at the ground zero borehole and decreases in depth towards the crater rim. A layer of highly shocked material is also found on the surface in the vicinity of the reference bolehole, located outside the crater. This material could represent a fallout layer. The ejecta samples have experienced a range of shock pressures.

It was also demonstrated that the EPR technique is feasible for the study of terrestrial impact craters formed in carbonate bedrock. The results for the Meteor Crater analysis suggest a slight degree of shock damage present in the β member of the Kaibab Formation exposed in the crater walls.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Planetary science; geophysics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Planetary Sciences
Minor Option:Geophysics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Ahrens, Thomas J. (advisor)
  • Burnett, Donald S. (co-advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • Stevenson, David John (chair)
  • Ahrens, Thomas J.
  • Burnett, Donald S.
  • Ingersoll, Andrew P.
  • Westphal, James A.
Defense Date:22 September 1988
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:10172013-085025235
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for Paper 1.
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7994
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:17 Oct 2013 17:37
Last Modified:13 May 2024 21:41

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