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The Digital Terrain Model (DTM) of craters in the Chiemgau meteorite impact strewn field with extreme topographic resolution excludes anthropogenic and glacial origin in principle and provides insight into unusual formation processes.
versity of Würzburg, D-97074 Würzburg, Germany, 2Geophysik Poßekel Mülheim,
Introduction: In earth and planetary impact crater
studies various digital remote sensing tools have
increasingly supplied high-resolution data. On Earth
and here with a special focus on the German DGM 1,
DTM data have become an important tool within the
geosciences. Based on LiDAR data, topographic maps
in a regular grid down to a spacing of 1 m and with
highest altitude resolution down to 20 cm may be
produced for the bare ground, ignoring any objects like
plants and buildings and may even be processed in
thick forest (Fig. 1). In the strewn field of the
Chiemgau meteorite impact the resolution of the topo-
graphic crater shapes to a hitherto unknown precision,
has opened completely new perspective on the
formation of these structures, which is reported here.
The Chiemgau impact event: In a strewn field of
roughly 60 km x 30 km size far more than 100 mostly
rimmed craters with diameters between a few meters
and a few 100 meters occur in a moraine and gravel
plain landscape formed in the last Würm Alpine
glaciation. The impact strewn field shows all and
abundant evidence of impact signature as is required
within the impact research community [1, 2, and
references therein]). The event happened in the Bronze
Age/Iron Age between 900 and 600 BC as revealed
from impact catastrophe layers and their archeological
inventory [2].
Data processing: The DGM 1 terrain imagery
proceeds from a 1 m mesh and an elevation resolution
of 0.2 m, which may be even reduced by interpolation.
It produces topographic maps based on arbitrary
contour intervals and color scaling, 3D surfaces,
shadowed relief and vector maps. The computing of
topographic gradient (terrain slope) maps and various
data filtering procedures add to the manifold
possibilities, as do high-resolution crater profiles
providing not only very precise crater depths and
diameters but also very details of the overall crater
Results: The current status of morphological
investigations with the DGM comprises roughly 50-60
craters with diameters between about 5 m and 250 m
(rim to rim) and different crater constellations (Fig. 2).
For space reasons, typical craters from the different
size groups are presented and discussed in this paper,
by omitting individual steps of data processing and
emphasizing that certain shapes repeat themselves
many times with an accuracy better than decimeters to
Fig. 2. Medium-sized craters: simple, doublet, multiple, cluster.
Medium-sized "multi-ring" craters. The enormous
resolution of the DTM points to a possibly impact-
specific peculiarity. As is marked in Fig. 3 and 4, the
in each case clearly visible rim wall is surrounded by a
roughly concentric ring depression a few decimeters
deep only, giving the structures a total size of more
than 30 m. Similar ring-like depressions are found also
for most other small craters, but because of general
rough terrain conditions they often lack the exemplary
geometry seen in Fig. 3. Even in Fig. 5 with the band
of stacked small crater profiles, the peripheral
depression extending into a wavy signature becomes
apparent. Although for the time being a reasonable
explanation is lacking, the mere existence of this
peculiar crater structure highlights once more the
enormous potential of the DTM terrain evaluation.
Fig. 3. The model crater #001 (Schatzgrube). Optical leveling on
the same profile confirms the DGM data.
Fig. 5. Stacking of 20 small craters from a limitedly selected
forest area (1 km2) and cross sections from DTM data. A wavy
enclosing is indicated.
2019.pdf11th Planetary Crater Consortium 2020 (LPI Contrib. No. 2251)
The model nature of the #001 crater in Fig. 3 is also
emphasized by a perfectly rotational topographic
symmetry found in a more or less identical manner
with most individual craters in the Chiemgau strewn
Fig. 6. Perfect rotational symmetry: eight DTM radial
profiles with height deviations no more than 20 cm in the
crater bowl and over the rim wall, and no more than 50
cm over the 40 m complete sections.
The larger craters. More than a dozen craters with
diameters between roughly 50 m and 250 m have
aroused particular interest because they are
concentrated in a moraine landscape rich in lakes to the
north-west of Lake Chiemsee and have so far generally
been regarded as glacial (dead ice) depressions, partly
filled with water. As in the case of medium-sized
craters, a model structure is presented here (Fig. 7) that
illustrates essential features and practically excludes
ice-age formation.
Fig. 7. The almost perfectly circular ND crater (ND = natural
landmark) and eight mirrored radial profiles. Despite the
irregular moraine landscape, the profiles do not deviate by more
than 2.5 m over 200 m extension with one exception. A terraced
structure and slight walling occurs in many closely related
craters (Fig. 8).
Discussion and conclusions: The results presented
here are an extract of a meanwhile much larger data
and interpretation pool of the DTM application. The
essential points are:
The application of the DTM for crater
exploration even in dense forest and swamp areas has
led to an enormous increase in the number of
postulated impact craters. The previously valid rule
that impact nature is only proven by direct observation,
projectile remnants or shock effects is given the
additional aspect of morphology in the case of the
Chiemgau impact, and for the time being only here.
Fig. 8. A selection of larger circular craters within an area of
roughly 10 km x 5 km. In most cases, crater lakes, some of which
are up to 200 m in size, have sharply contoured riparian margins
that are more or less morphologically congruent on radial
profiles with deviations of no more than 1 m.
Fig. 9. Depth-to-diameter relationship for 18 larger craters in the
Chiemgau strewn field. The dispersed distribution shows a
generally low ratio and rather a clustering than a systematic
Perfect circular symmetry including crater bowl,
ring wall and peripheral depressions, which enlarge the
structure to two to three times the size of the pure
crater, reasonably exclude any human installation and,
e.g., simple sinkhole formation. A central, point-like
force "from above" can explain this. The associated
mechanism of crater (explosion) formation is not yet
understood, although the wavy shape could be a
reaction to the mostly soft ground of loose, water-
saturated rock, with the possible effect of seismic
surface (Rayleigh) waves [3]. The soft ground may
also explain the very low depth-to-diameter ratio (Fig.
9) and a terraced morphology (Fig. 7) by reflux of rim
wall material. So far it is also unclear to what extent
the consistency of the Chiemgau impactor for the large
strewn field has influenced the crater formation.The
larger craters and their amazingly perfectly circular
shape fundamentally rule out the ice age genesis
assumed so far by geologists who would have to
explain how this sharply contoured, very flat picture-
book shape could have been preserved over more than
10,000 years (end of ice age) from dead-ice melting.
We conclude that the results have a certain statistical
significance due to the high number of crater shapes
precisely measured with the DTM. Well-known
cratering models for the group of simple craters with a
bowl and a ring wall that merges into a blanket of
decreasing ejecta thickness have to consider much
more complex shapes, at least in targets with a bedrock
of loose rocks. For critics of an impact genesis, this
poses the problem of explaining crater morphologies
for which human formation or simple sinkholes can be
absolutely ruled out.
References: [1] Ernstson, K. et al. (2010) J.
Siberian Federal Univ., Engin. & Techn., 1, 72-103.
[2] Rappenglück, M.A. et al. (2017) Z. Anomalistik,
17, 235-260. [3] Poßekel, J. and Ernstson, K. this
2019.pdf11th Planetary Crater Consortium 2020 (LPI Contrib. No. 2251)
Full-text available
Secondary craters in impacts on moon, planets and their moons are a well known phenomenon, which has been investigated many times. In the article commented by us here, the authors report on a crater strewn field in the American state of Wyoming, which is interpreted as a field of secondary craters of a so far unknown larger primary impact structure and as a first on Earth. We compare the Wyoming crater strewn field with the Chiemgau impact crater strewn field in SE Germany and find that both have nearly identical characteristics of virtually all relevant features, in terms of geometries and petrography. We conclude that the alleged Wyoming secondary crater field is a fiction and the craters attributable to a primary impact. The alleged evidence is very poor to easily refuted. A primary crater does not exist to this day. The negative free-air gravity anomaly referred to, but not even shown, is invalid for this purpose. The Bouguer gravity map shows no indication of a possible large impact structure. Also unsuitable is the use of asymmetries with elongations of assumed secondary craters with a very questionable corridor intersection for the ejecta. Of 31 craters surveyed as proven, 15 are circular (eccentricity 1) and more than half (19) have an eccentricity ≤1.2. Circular and elongated craters are intermixed. The evaluated crater axes may just as well originate in a multiple primary impact. Elongated craters may also result from doublets of overlapping craters that are no longer fresh, as described by the authors themselves. In their paper, the authors do not show a Digital Terrain Model with contour lines for any of the surveyed craters, but only aerial photos blurred by vegetation. A verification of the crater measurements with the deduced eccentricities and strike directions is impossible. Not a single topographic profile over even a single crater in the strewn field is shown, either from DTM data or from an optical leveling, which could have been accomplished in an instant given the relatively small craters. Grave is the misconception that such a large crater field of 90 km length with three separate clusters is not possible according to 20 years old model calculations. A primary impact with multiple projectiles could perhaps be conceivable under rare circumstances, which are described by the authors as not relevant. The alleged impossibility of such a large primary strewn field with referring to the known small impact fields of Morasko, Odessa, Wabar, Henbury, Sikhote Alin, Kaalijärv, and Macha is contradicted by the three larger impact strewn fields of Campo del Cielo, Bajada del Diablo (very likely), and Chiemgau, which are best described in the literature but are not mentioned by Kenkmann et al. with a single word. The comparison of the Wyoming strewn field with the Chiemgau impact crater strewn field of about the same size here in the commentary article proves the scientifically clearly much greater significance of the Chiemgau impact, which must be considered as currently the largest and most significant Holocene impact despite the rejection and ignoring in some parts of the so-called impact community.
Full-text available
We use Schmieder and Kring's article to show how science still works within the so-called "impact community" and how scienti c data are manipulated and "rubber-stamped" by reviewers (here, e.g., C. Koeberl and G. Osinski). We accuse the authors of continuing to list the Azuara and Rubielos de la Cérida impact structures and one of the world's most prominent ejecta occurrences of the Pelarda Fm. in Spain 1 2 as non-existent in the compilation. The same applies to the spectacular Chiemgau impact in Germany, which has been proven by all impact criteria for several years. For the authors' dating list, we propose that the multiple impact of Azuara is included together with the crater chain of the Rubielos de la Cérida impact basin as a dated candidate for the third, so far undated impact markers in the Massignano outcrop in Italy.
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