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The Colônia Impact Crater: Geological Heritage and Natural Patrimony in the Southern Metropolitan Region of São Paulo, Brazil

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Abstract

The Parelheiros district, located at the extreme southern end of the São Paulo metropolitan region, is histor-ically famous for the occurrence of an unusual circular de-pression, denominated in the geological literature as Colônia Crater. This prominent geomorphological structure, with a 3.6-km diameter, formed by impact cratering, represents one of the few records of a violent and devastating geological process that shaped the Earth's surface in the past. The crater lies within an environmental protection area and displays a remarkable landscape, as well as a rich and singular fauna and flora. With a wide geological and biological diversity, the Colônia impact crater is an extraordinary natural heritage and must be rigorously preserved to: (a) conserve its excep-tional natural wealth in order to provide continuity to various scientific researches, (b) implement suitable land use and occupation programmes to maintain the crater as an environ-mental preservation area and (c) encourage the local community's participation in the development of sustainable tourism in the region.

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... The authors share the opinion of many scientists (including Zwoliński et al., 2018) that geodiversity analysis using GIS analyses may play a significant role in forecasting a holistic and integrated ecosystem and geosystem services approach to support the sustainable management of natural systems, creating tourist (geotourist) products (e.g., Burlando et al., 2011;Velázquez et al., 2014;Vasiljević et al., 2018;Albani et al., 2020;Herrera-Franco et al., 2020) or conscious management of protected areas and geoheritage (e.g., Kirchner and Kubalíková, 2014;González-Amuchastegui and Serrano, 2018;Rypl et al., 2019;Carruana Herrera and Martínez Murillo, 2020;Štrba et al., 2020). ...
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... These authors described a series of distinctive shock-metamorphic features, including planar deformation on minerals, ballen quartz with heterogeneous extinction, granular extinction in zircon crystals and melt-bearing impact rocks. In addition, Vel azquez and their collaborators have spent a great deal of work in the study of the crater, calling especially the attention for the needs of its preservation as a natural patrimony (Vel azquez et al., 2006(Vel azquez et al., , 2008(Vel azquez et al., , 2014. ...
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... A Cratera de Colônia configura uma proeminente feição circular de aproximadamente 3,6 km de diâmetro, interpretada como uma provável feição de impacto de meteorito (RICCOMINI et al., 2005;VELÁZQUEZ et al., 2014). Localiza-se no extremo sul do município de São Paulo, no ...
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... A Cratera de Colônia configura uma proeminente feição circular de aproximadamente 3,6 km de diâmetro, interpretada como uma provável feição de impacto de meteorito (RICCOMINI et al., 2005;VELÁZQUEZ et al., 2014). Localiza-se no extremo sul do município de São Paulo, no A principal área de afloramento de onde a rocha foi retirada para compor os monumentos é uma pedreira, hoje inativa, próxima ao atual Estádio do Itaquerão, região leste da cidade. ...
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... Colônia Crater from an oblique view. Extracted from[40]. ...
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... A study performed by Riccomini et al. (2011), which integrated new seismic data with the previously published geological data, suggested a thickness of 275 m with two different intermediate zones. According to Velázquez et al. (2013;2014), based on a large number of samples obtained in two boreholes that were drilled inside the crater for groundwater exploitation, four different lithological associations may be recognized in these deposits: 1) unshocked crystalline basement rocks formed mostly of mica schist, granitic gneiss, quartzite, and granite; 2) fractured/brecciated basement rocks that show extensive deformation features, such that the brittle and ductile structures are considerably more intense and pervasive than those exposed along the outer crater margin; 3) allochthonous crater-fill deposits, including a complex mixture of lithic fragments, mineral clasts, and molten rocks that were derived from crystalline basement rocks and, more rarely, from older sedimentary rocks; and 4) post-impact deposits that consist of very poorly sorted fine-to coarse-grained siliciclastic sediments, including some intercalations of organo-pelitic materials. In order of abundance, the terrigenous sediments include disaggregated quartz clasts, K-feldspar, mica, tourmaline, and clay minerals. ...
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Nature conservation, sustainable development and the consequences of environmental degradation are central themes in debates about the future of humanity. From a sustainability perspective, reconciling the tense relationship between economic growth, quality of life and ecosystem preservation is becoming increasingly difficult. This paper presents a holistic approach to the socio-environmental problems of the Colônia impact crater. The efficiency of environmental protection measures, the feasibility of management programs and the political platform for sustainable development are the main issues discussed. The data reveal a high risk of increasing environmental degradation and worsening regional disparities. The implementation of geotourism, mainly via educational trails, landscape photography and agro-tourism, is one of the most favourable alternatives for social and economic development in the region. Such a project should be developed with broad participation from the local community and with an active and permanent policy management.
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The Colônia Deep Drilling Project held its first International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) workshop in September 2014 at the University of São Paulo (Brazil). Twenty-seven experts from six countries discussed the feasibility and the expectations of a deep drilling in the structure of Colônia located at the southwestern margin of the city of São Paulo. After presenting the studies performed at the site during the last decades, participants focused on the objectives, priorities and detailed planning for a full deep-drilling proposal. An excursion to the site and new auger coring showed the importance of the Colônia site for studying the evolution of a tropical rainforest and to evaluate the interplay between the South American summer monsoon, the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and the southern Westerlies belt during the last 5 million years. In addition, deep drilling will eventually solve the still unresolved issue of the origin of the structure of Colônia as a result of meteorite impact or endogenous processes.
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A CRATERA DE COLÔNIA é uma proeminente feição circular com aproximadamente 3,6 km de diâ-metro, localizada a cerca de 35 km ao sul da região central da Cidade de São Paulo. Desenvolvida essen-cialmente sobre rochas pré-cambrianas, esta estrutu-ra é definida por um anel externo colinoso que se eleva a cerca de 125 m sobre uma planície aluvial interior pantanosa. Levantamentos geofísicos indicaram uma profundidade máxima de 450 m para o embasamento, no centro da estrutura. A hipótese de que esta feição seria resultante do impacto de corpo celeste, postula-da desde os estudos iniciais, vem sendo lastreada nas suas características geológicas, geomorfológicas e dados geofísicos. Não há indicações da atuação de processos endógenos na sua gênese, o que reforça a hipótese de estrutura de impacto. Por outro lado, até o presente momento não foram encontradas evidências diretas de impacto, como metamorfismo de choque, devido ao preenchimento sedimentar da depressão e pela existência de espesso manto de intemperismo na região. A cratera é preenchida principalmente com sedi-mentos pelíticos, ricos em matéria orgânica, cujo con-teúdo polínico revela que a floresta Atlântica na região esteve sujeita às mudanças climáticas globais ocorri-das durante o Quaternário. Com base em dados palinológicos admite-se idade neogênica para o presumível impacto. Palavras-chave: cratera de impacto; registros paleoclimáticos; Quaternário The Colônia Crater, State of São Paulo – A probable astrobleme with Quaternary palaeoclimatic record in the Great São Paulo region The Colônia Crater is an outstanding ring feature, around 3.6 km in diameter, located about 35 km south from São Paulo. The structure developed mainly upon Precambrian crystalline basement rocks and is defined by a hilly circular outer rim up to 125 m higher than an inner swampy alluvial plain. Geophysical data indicated a maximum depth of 450 m to the crystalline substratum within the structure. The hypothesis that this feature results from the impact of a celestial body, postulated since the first studies carried out in the area, has been based on its geological and geomorphological characteristics as well as geophysical data. The lack of indications of endogenous process also reinforces this hypothesis. Nevertheless, no direct evidence of an impact, such as shock metamorphism, has yet been found, most likely due to the sedimentary fill within the depressIon and the deep weathering in the region. The crater is filled mainly with organic-rich clayey sediments whose polliniferous record confirms that the Atlantic rainforest in the region was submitted to global climatic changes during the Quaternary. Based on palynological data the age of the presumable impact would be probably Neogene.
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Systematic examination of dating results from various craters indicates that about 90% of the rocks affected by an impact preserve their pre-shock ages because shock and post-shock conditions are not sufficient to disturb isotopic dating systems. In the other 10% of target lithologies, various geochronometers show significant shock-induced effects. Major problems in dating impactites are caused by their nonequilibrated character. Samples of the coherent impact melt layer are the most suitable candidates for dating. Excellent ages of high precision can be obtained by internal Rb-Sr, and Sm-Nd isochrons, U-Pb analyses on newly crystallized accessory minerals, and K-Ar (39Ar-40Ar) dating of clast-free melt rocks. Fission track counting on glassy material has yielded correct ages, and paleomagnetic measurements have been successfully applied to post-Triassic craters. In the ideal case of a fast-cooling impact melt layer, all these different techniques should give identical ages. Crater basement lithologies have a high potential in impact dating, although it has not been exploited so far. Distant ejecta material have undergone very fast cooling, and the ejecta deposits have ambient formation temperatures. Among this material, tektites and impact melt glass are ideal objects for Ar-Ar and fission track impact dating. -from Authors
Article
Abstract– The near-circular Colônia structure, located in the southern suburbs of the mega-city of São Paulo, Brazil, has attracted the attention of geoscientists for several decades due to its anomalous character and the complete absence of any plausible endogenous geologic explanation for its formation. Origin by impact cratering has been suggested repeatedly since the 1960s, but no direct evidence for this has been presented to date. New seismic data have been recently acquired at Colônia, providing new insights into the characteristics and possible layering of infill of the structure, as well as into the depth to the underlying basement. We review the current knowledge about the Colônia structure, present the new seismic data, and discuss the existing—as yet still indirect—evidence for a possible origin by an impact. The new data suggest the existence of a sedimentary fill of approximately 275 m thickness and also the presence of two intermediate zones between sediment and basement: an upper zone that is approximately 65 m thick and can be interpreted as a possible crater-fill breccia, whereas the other zone possibly represents fractured/brecciated basement, with a thickness of approximately 50 m. Although this depth to basement seems to be inconsistent with the expected geometry of a simple, bowl-shape impact structure of such diameter, there are a number of still unconstrained parameters that could explain this, such as projectile nature, size and velocity, impact angle, and particularly the current erosion depth.
Article
Abstract— The three major geochemical methods for impactor identification are evaluated with respect to their potential and limitations with regards to the precise detection and identification of meteoritic material in impactites. The identification of a projectile component in impactites can be achieved by determining certain isotopic and elemental ratios in contaminated impactites. The isotopic methods are based on Os and Cr isotopic ratios. Osmium isotopes are highly sensitive for the detection of minute amounts of extraterrestrial components of even <<0.05 wt% in impactites. However, this only holds true for target lithologies with almost no chemical signature of mantle material or young mantle-derived mafic rocks. Furthermore, this method is not currently suitable for the precise identification of the projectile type. The Cr-isotopic method requires the relatively highest projectile contamination (several wt%) in order to detect an extraterrestrial component, but may allow the identification of three different groups of extraterrestrial materials, ordinary chondrites, an enstatite chondrites, and differentiated achondrites. A significant advantage of this method is its independence of the target lithology and post-impact alteration. The use of elemental ratios, including platinum group elements (PGE: Os, Ir, Ru, Pt, Rh, Pd), in combination with Ni and Cr represents a very powerful method for the detection and identification of projectiles in terrestrial and lunar impactites. For most projectile types, this method is almost independent of the target composition, especially if PGE ratios are considered. This holds true even in cases of terrestrial target lithologies with a high component of upper mantle material. The identification of the projectile is achieved by comparison of the “projectile elemental ratio” derived from the slope of the mixing line (target-projectile) with the elemental ratio in the different types of possible projectiles (e.g., chondrites). However, this requires a set of impactite samples of various degree of projectile contamination.
Article
The long-term Colônia record is located in the Atlantic rainforest domain in Brazil (23°52′S 46°42′20″W 900 m a.s.l.). The 780 cm long core CO3 provides a coverage of a complete interglacial/glacial cycle for the first time in a neotropical rainforest. Information on the behavior of tropical climates compared to global changes in temperatures indicates specific climate responses in terms of precipitation at these latitudes. Winter extratropical circulation was very active during the last interglacial and most of the glacial. Floristic composition of the rainforest changed several times in each phase of expansion, twice during the interglacial, and three times during glacial episodes. Araucaria was well developed in the area of São Paulo until the beginning of the first dry phase of the glacial at ca. 50,000 yr B.P. Changes in insolation controlled the expansion of the rainforest and the tropical hydrological cycle as evidenced by a strong precession signal. However precession had no impact on regional climatic features. The two interglacials (MIS 5e and Holocene) showed completely different patterns attesting to the continuous evolution of the forest. The biodiversity index (Shannon–Wiener Index) remained high during both the interglacial and glacial attesting to the permanence of small patches of rainforest refugia during drier phases. The lowest Shannon-Wiener Indexes were recorded between 23,000 and 12,000 yr B.P. and 40,000 and 30,000 yr B.P. and characterize two marked phases of stress for the rainforest.
Article
This handbook of Shock-Metamorphic Effects in Terrestrial Meteorite Impact Structures emphasizes terrestrial impact structures, field geology, and particularly the recognition and petrographic study of shock-metamorphic effects in terrestrial rocks. Individual chapters include: 1) Landscapes with Craters: Meteorite Impacts, Earth, and the Solar System; 2) Target Earth: Present, Past and Future; 3) Formation of Impact Craters; 4) Shock-Metamorphic Effects in Rocks and Minerals; 5) Shock-Metamorphosed Rocks (Impactities) in Impact Structures; 6) Impact Melts; 7) How to Find Impact Structures; and 8) What Next? Current Problems and Future Investigations.
Article
The ability of living organisms to survive on the smaller bodies in our solar system is examined. The three most significant sterilizing effects include ionizing radiation, prolonged extreme vacuum, and relentless thermal inactivation. Each could be effectively lethal, and even more so in combination, if organisms at some time resided in the surfaces of airless small bodies located near or in the inner solar system. Deep within volatile-rich bodies, certain environments theoretically might provide protection of dormant organisms against these sterilizing factors. Sterility of surface materials to tens or hundreds of centimeters of depth appears inevitable, and to greater depths for bodies which have resided for long periods sunward of about 2 A.U.
Article
Platinum metals are depleted in the earth's crust relative to their cosmic abundance; concentrations of these elements in deep-sea sediments may thus indicate influxes of extraterrestrial material. Deep-sea limestones exposed in Italy, Denmark, and New Zealand show iridium increases of about 30, 160, and 20 times, respectively, above the background level at precisely the time of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinctions, 65 million years ago. Reasons are given to indicate that this iridium is of extraterrestrial origin, but did not come from a nearby supernova. A hypothesis is suggested which accounts for the extinctions and the iridium observations. Impact of a large earth-crossing asteroid would inject about 60 times the object's mass into the atmosphere as pulverized rock; a fraction of this dust would stay in the stratosphere for several years and be distributed worldwide. The resulting darkness would suppress photosynthesis, and the expected biological consequences match quite closely the extinctions observed in the paleontological record. One prediction of this hypothesis has been verified: the chemical composition of the boundary clay, which is thought to come from the stratospheric dust, is markedly different from that of clay mixed with the Cretaceous and Tertiary limestones, which are chemically similar to each other. Four different independent estimates of the diameter of the asteroid give values that lie in the range 10 +/- 4 kilometers.
Article
Twenty-three samples covering a wide range of shock metamorphism from the Ries impact crater in southern Germany were analyzed for siderophile and volatile elements in order to determine the chemical nature of the impacting meteorite. Slight enrichments in the siderophile elements Ir and Os above the indigenous level of 0.015 ppb were observed in only eight samples, including a shocked, metal-bearing amphibolite and two weakly shocked biotite gneisses, whereas those samples expected to contain meteoritic material (heavily shocked glasses) do not exhibit a perceptible siderophile enrichment. The Ir, Os and Ni enrichments of the metal bearing amphibolite are found to be compatible with chondritic ratios, while in the other enriched samples, Ir, Ni and Se relationships suggest an achondritic meteoritic origin. An aubritic projectile is concluded to be most compatible with the data.
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