Suspected Earth Impact Sites database
David Rajmon, Shell, Houston, TX, USA
Last update: see web
Historic updates: 1 September 2005, 11 January 2006, 3 March 2006, 10 July 2006, 2
October 2006, 11 January 2007, 13 Apr 2007
First published: 1 June 2005
Current structure count
Confirmed (Earth Impact Database): 174 (although I include Arkenu 1 and 2 in
my class 3)
Confirmed (SEIS): 4
The aim for this database is to:
- Provide ever-evolving list helping to steer research on suspected impact structures.
- Provide basic data for each structure presented with a meaningful precision.
- Provide brief and specific information about data sources and quality, incl. literature
references, methods used to measure the data, clarification of conflicting information
from various literature sources etc.
- Sort out non-impact structures by consciously rejecting them instead of just forgetting
them and allowing unreasonable proposals to keep coming back.
The development of this database started in October 2004 for a brief
reconnaissance project at Shell and was released for public development in June 2005. It
was designed complementary to Earth Impact Database (EID, 2006), which has been
widely regarded as a reference work for confirmed impact structures. Extensive list of
proposed impact structures from Moilanen (2004) together with those structures that I
independently compiled from literature formed the basis of the new database. Moilanen’s
database provided references and valuable additional information for some of the
structures, but for most of the structures, references were not available, which prevented
an assessment of the quality and vintage of the data.
Current status and further development
Further data development continues along three lines:
1. Systematic scanning of literature and the internet for more structures.
2. Systematic literature compilation for individual structures.
3. Geologic screening study utilizing satellite data accessible on internet.
Relatively few structures bear detailed notes currently but about half of the
structures are now supported by a reference to original work. The structures printed in
CAPITALS have been merely grabbed from Moilanen’s database and I did not have a
chance to review them yet; all the notes for these structures come from Moilanen’s
database unless mentioned otherwise. Recently discovered paper by (Classen, 1977)
appears to be the source of many of Moilanen’s data. Classen’s data will therefore
provide original references for most of the other half of the structures.
How to contribute
Compilation of all necessary information is a huge task for one person but can be
achieved if the impact community joins forces and many people contribute a little. Any
information is appreciated, however, presentation in the database format is strongly
preferred as it saves me a lot of work. Please refer to the explanation of data attributes
below and to some more complete examples of the structures in the database (e.g.
Sirente, Ševětín, Silverpit, Alamo).
Ideally I would like you to submit:
- Data in Excel file
- electronic files of the referred literature
Please send your contributions to David Rajmon (email@example.com).
Many thanks to all who provided some feedback so far!
Names and Credits
The database follows a standard naming and referencing style common in scientific
literature. Names of the structures are derived from nearby geographic features. Personal
names will not be accepted.
Whoever contributes to data entry will be named in the database. I decide the
order of the names and who will be listed based on the amount of contribution.
Consequently, if the notes for a particular structure are completely rewritten the previous
contributors may be dropped of the list.
The notes contain standard references to published literature and personal
communication. References to peer-reviewed work are strongly preferred over personal
communication and other non-peer-reviewed sources and will replace them eventually.
Sources systematically searched for new proposed impacts:
(von Engelhardt, 1972; Grieve et al., 1988; Henkel and Pesonen, 1992; Hodge, 1994;
Koeberl, 1994; Glikson, 1996; Koeberl and Anderson, 1996; Fortes, 2000; Master and
Reimold, 2000; Abels et al., 2002; Glikson and Haines, 2004; Moilanen, 2004; Sharpton,
2004 November; Evans et al., 2005; Glikson and Haines, 2005; EID, 2006)
(Herrick and Pierrazzo, 2003)
(Evans et al., 2005)
(Ormö and Bergman, 2006)
LPSC 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007
METSOC 2004, 2005, 2006
Meteoritics vol. 2-6 (excluding meeting abstracts)
MAPS 2002-2006 (excluding meeting abstracts)
(Johnson and Campbell, 1997; Dressler and Sharpton, 1999; Dypvik et al., 2004)
Explanation of data attributes:
1. Confirmed – impact site with documented shock features and/or meteoritic
material and/or observed fall but not included in the Earth Impact Database (EID)
because the structure does not pass the EID size restriction or lacks a typical
structure due to the nature of the particular impact event (airblast, deep water…).
2. Probable – structural, geological and geophysical studies established reasonable
evidence, possibly with unconfirmed reports of shock features in abstracts, but the
definite shock features and/or meteoritic material is not well documented yet.
Includes Moilanen’s “probable” structures and also some of the Moilanen’s
“nearly proven structures” if I or person who I trust did not review the evidence.
More than 50% of these structures are expected to be of impact origin.
3. Proposed/Possible – some structural, geological and/or geophysical evidence
exists but the impact origin is still highly uncertain for the lack of data. Any
structures supported by work that has not been published. This includes some
poorly supported proposals until they get reviewed and reclassified. Less than
50% of these structures are expected to be of impact origin.
4. Improbable – observations of the structure and/or geological context suggest
non-impact origin but alternative interpretation has not been well established.
5. Rejected – non-impact origin has been well documented
The most common name. Other used names appear in the notes. For structures in
countries using Latin alphabet, spelling in respective language is adopted. Diacritics (a
mark added to a letter to indicate a special pronunciation) can be destroyed when saving
as .txt file - WATCH OUT.
Indication of whether the structure is a part of a crater field.
Mostly taken from the referenced literature source, but not always. This may also
be derived by the database contributor from Lat/Lon data as those are considered the
primary way of the structure location.
Shown in decimal degrees format, where N and E are positive, and S and W are
negative. Number of shown digits depends on precision of available data and
circumstances. For example, showing a center of a 1-km structure with 1-minute
precision is inadequate as the location may end up outside of the structure. Precision of 1
second for an 80-km structure is clearly irrelevant. Beware that underlying number may
show many more digits; this is a result of a deg/min/sec conversion to decimal degrees
and does not reflect actual precision. When saving in different format or copying and
pasting the numbers the formatting may be lost, i.e. zeros at the end will be omitted
effectively decreasing precision and irrelevant digits will be shown increasing precision
Original rim-to-rim diameter is preferred. If not available, diameter of observed
feature is used. In any case, the diameter should be explained in “Notes”. Please refer to
Turtle et al. (2005).
The age should be recorded in original format and with a range of uncertainty. The
stratigraphic names are translated in number in the columns “Minimum age”, “Best age”,
and “Maximum age” and the note should explain how the age was calibrated. For ages
indicated with a range, e.g. 100-300 Ma, the “Best age” should be left blank as it would
be meaningless. “Age uncertainty” is filled in only if explicitly indicated in original data.
“Age uncertainty type” shows whether the uncertainty represents 1σ, 2σ, 95% confidence
interval, MSWD, stratigraphic range, etc. For cases of approximate ages without an
indication of uncertainty an arbitrary 10% uncertainty has been chosen. Note that 2σ and
95% confidence intervals are not necessarily the same.
Representation of age data in several columns allows searching and ranking.
Initially, stratigraphic ages were converted to numerical ages for some structures and the
original format does not appear in the database. This practice has been later abandoned
with a realization that the numerical ages will change according to evolving stratigraphic
The thickness of the rocks (in meters) covering the structure.
Present water depth
The thickness of water layer (in meters) covering the entire structure. Lakes filling
the structures do not count.
This information can be provided with certainty if the answer is “yes”. As one
cannot be sure about the negative answer for drilling of many of the structures, “No”
should be entered with care.
Indication of the target rocks assuming impact origin of the structures. Target
types: W – water, M – metamorphic, I – igneous, S – sedimentary with indexes s –
siliciclastic, c – carbonate, e – evaporite. The rock types tend to be presented in the order
decreasing volume in the target.
Target water depth
Indication of the target water depth presented assuming impact origin of the
Indication of the projectile type presented assuming impact origin of the structures.
Really applies only to the (nearly) confirmed structures.
The notes should:
- Accurately capture literature sources for each individual data entry
- Describe the basis of impact origin proposal, particular attention should be
paid to reports of shock features and meteoritic material.
- Explain methods used to obtain the data (e.g., step-heating Ar/Ar on K-feldspar
separates) and uncertainties. Sometimes a brief discussion of other conflicting
data is useful (e.g., older ages with different methods).
- Describe competing hypotheses, at least by referring to who advocated what.
- Provide at least a list of other references not discussed any further.
- Pay attention to information about drilling (where, who, location of cores …)
The notes should be kept brief but clear and specific. Complete notes according to
these guidelines are presently not available for almost any structure but we should push
for making them as complete as possible.
Moilanen (2004) is the only reference for structures with names in CAPITALS.
These structures have not been reviewed and any notes present come from that source.
Recognition is given to those persons who contributed information to a particular
structure in “ready format”. Throwing an abstract at me does not count towards your
Abels A., Plado J., Pesonen L. J. and Lehtinen M. (2002) The impact cratering record of
Fennoscandia - a close look at the database. In Impacts in Precambrian Shields,
edited by J. Plado and L. J. Pesonen. Impact studies Berlin, Germany: Springer.
Classen J. (1977) Catalog of 230 certain, probable, possible and doubtful impact
structures. Meteoritics 12(1):61-78. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-
Dressler B. O. and Sharpton V. L. (1999) Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary
Evolution II. Geological Society of America Special Paper 339. Boulder,
Colorado, USA: Geological Society of America. 464 p.
Dypvik H., Burchell M. and Claeys P. (2004) Cratering in Marine Environments and on
Ice. Impact Studies Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag. 340 p.
Eid (2006) Earth Impact Database. 7 February 2006.
Evans K. R., Horton J. W., Jr., Thompson M. F. and Warme J. E. (2005) SEPM research
conference: The sedimentary record of meteorite impacts, Springfield, Missouri,
USA, 21-23 May, 2005 - abstracts with program. 35 p.
Fortes A. D. (2000) Terrestrial impact structures. 19 November 2004.
Glikson A. Y. (1996) A compendium of Australian impact structures, possible impact
structures, and ejecta occurrences. AGSO Journal of Australian Geology and
Glikson A. Y. and Haines P. W. (2004) A compendium of Australian impact structures,
possible impact structures, and ejecta occurrences. unpublished.
Glikson A. Y. and Haines P. W. (2005) Shoemaker Memorial Issue on the Australian
impact record: 1997 – 2005 update. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences 52(4-
Grieve R. A. F., Wood C. A., Garvin J. B., Mclaughlin G. and Mchone J. F. (1988)
Possible impact craters. In Astronaut's guide to terrestrial impact craters, edited.
LPI Technical Report 88-03 Houston, TX, USA: Lunar and Planetary Institute.
pp. 75-82. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-
Henkel H. and Pesonen L. J. (1992) Impact craters and craterform structures in
Fennoscandia. Tectonophysics 216(1-2):31-40.
Herrick R. R. and Pierrazzo E. (2003) Impact Cratering: Bridging the Gap Between
Modeling and Observations. Houston, Texas, USA: Lunar and Planetary
Hodge P. (1994) Meteorite craters and impact structures of the Earth. Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge University Press. 124 p.
Johnson K. S. and Campbell J. A. (1997) Ames structure in northwest Oklahoma and
similar features: Origin and petroleum production (1995 symposium). Oklahoma
Geological Survey Circular 100. Norman, OK, United States: University of
Oklahoma. 396 p.
Koeberl C. (1994) African meteorite impact craters: characteristics and geological
importance. Journal of African Earth Sciences 18(4):263-295.
Koeberl C. and Anderson R. R. (1996) Manson and company: Impact structures in the
United States. In The Manson impact structure, Iowa: Anatomy of an impact
crater, edited by C. Koeberl and R. R. Anderson. Geological Society of America
Special Paper 302. Boulder, Colorado, USA: Geological Society of America. pp.
Master S. and Reimold W. U. (2000) The impact cratering record of Africa: An updated
inventory of proven, probable, possible, and discredited impact structures on the
African continent (abstract). In Catastrophic events and mass extinctions: Impacts
and beyond, pp. #3099. Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, TX, USA,
Vienna, Austria. http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/impact2000/pdf/3099.pdf
Moilanen J. (2004) List of probable and possible impact structures of the World. 29
October 2004. http://www.somerikko.net/old/geo/imp/possible.htm
Ormö J. and Bergman H. (2006) Impact craters as indicators for planetary
environmental evolution and astrobiology - abstracts, June 8 - 14, 2006.
Östersund, Sweden. http://www.geo.su.se/index.php?group_ID=2204
Sharpton V. L. (2004 November) Global impact studies project.
Turtle E. P., Pierazzo E., Collins G. S., Osinski G. R., Melosh H. J., Morgan J. V. and
Reimold W. U. (2005) Impact structures: What does crater diameter mean? In
Large meteorite impacts III, edited by T. Kenkmann, F. Hörz and A. Deutsch.
Geological Society of America Special Paper 384. Boulder, Colorado, USA:
Geological Society of America. pp. 1-24.
Von Engelhardt W. (1972) Impact structures in Europe. In 24th International Geological
Congress, pp. 90-111, Montréal, Canada.