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SHATTER CONES - Shock-induced structures formed by a meteorite impact - Germany

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​​​​​​​SHATTER CONES - Key evidence for a catastrophic meteorite impact

15 million years old

Stenheim Basin, near Ulm, Southern Germany

        
Shatter cones are rare geological features that are proof of giant meteorite impacts.  They are characteristic, conical-shaped ‘horsetail’ fracture planes that are formed when rock is subjected to extreme shock. They also indicate the direction the shock wave was moving. Only giant meteorite impacts or underground nuclear explosions can produce these structures.
 
This example dates from the Miocene Period, about 15 million years ago, when an asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere and impacted on southern Germany creating what is known as the Ries Crater.  Some idea of the pressure waves induced in the rock at the impact site can be gained by the fact that the 1 kilometre diameter asteroid was travelling at about 12 kilometres a second (about 40 times the speed of sound).
 
About 40 kilometres south-west of the Ries Crater is the Stenheim Basin  crater which is the same age as The Ries indicating that this was a ‘double asteroid’, perhaps as a result of a single object breaking in apart in the atmosphere. The underlying rock of fine-grained Upper Jurassic limestone has here preserved the shatter cone structures very well.


Click on a picture for a larger image.

Please note that the photographs are taken using oblique lighting to make the structures easier to see.

Size: 7.5 x 5 x 4 centimetres
​​​​​​​
Weight: 150 grams


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SHATTER CONES - Shock-induced structures formed by a meteorite impact - Germany
SHATTER CONES - Shock-induced structures formed by a meteorite impact - Germany SHATTER CONES - Shock-induced structures formed by a meteorite impact - Germany SHATTER CONES - Shock-induced structures formed by a meteorite impact - Germany SHATTER CONES - Shock-induced structures formed by a meteorite impact - Germany