A case study of impact-induced hydrothermal activity: The Haughton impact structure, Devon Island, Canadian high arctic

G R Osinski, P Lee, J Parnell, J G Spray, M T Baron

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89 Citations (Scopus)


The well-preserved state and excellent exposure at the 39 Ma Haughton impact structure, 23 km in diameter, allows a clearer picture to be made of the nature and distribution of hydrothermal deposits within mid-size complex impact craters. A moderate- to low-temperature hydrothermal system was generated at Haughton by the interaction of groundwaters with the hot impact melt breccias that filled the interior of the crater. Four distinct settings and styles of hydrothermal mineralization are recognized at Haughton: a) Wigs and veins within the impact melt breccias, with an increase in intensity of alteration towards the base; b) cementation of brecciated lithologies in the interior of the central uplift; c) intense veining around the heavily faulted and fractured outer margin of the central uplift; and d) hydrothermal pipe structures or gossans and mineralization along fault surfaces around the faulted crater rim. Each setting is associated with a different suite of hydrothermal minerals that were deposited at different stages in the development of the hydrothermal system. Minor, early quartz precipitation in the impact melt breccias was followed by the deposition of calcite and marcasite within cavities and fractures, plus minor celestite, barite, and fluorite. This occurred at temperatures of at least 200 degrees C and down to similar to 100-120 degrees C. Hydrothermal circulation through the faulted crater rim with the deposition of calcite, quartz, marcasite, and pyrite, occurred at similar temperatures. Quartz mineralization within breccias of the interior of the central uplift occurred in two distinct episodes (similar to 250 down to similar to 90 degrees C, and < 60 degrees C). With continued cooling (< 90 degrees C), calcite and quartz were precipitated in vugs and veins within the impact melt breccias. Calcite veining around the outer margin of the central uplift occurred at temperatures of similar to 150 degrees C down to < 60 degrees C. Mobilization of hydrocarbons from the country rocks occurred during formation of the higher temperature calcite veins (> 80 degrees C). Appreciation of the structural features of impact craters has proven to be key to understanding the distribution of hydrothermal deposits at Haughton.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1859-1877
Number of pages19
JournalMeteoritics & Planetary Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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