The Lappajärvi impact structure (Finland): Age, duration of crater cooling, and implications for early life

Martin Schmieder, F. Jourdan

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    36 Citations (Scopus)


    An in-depth approach of 40Ar/39Ar dating of the ~23km Lappajärvi impact structure (Finland) was performed using carefully selected single-grain aliquots of optically fresh, clast-poor, impact melt rock and recrystallized K-feldspar melt particles separated from impact-metamorphosed granite pegmatite. Step-heating analysis yielded a set of 13 statistically robust plateau ages obtained on six melt rock and seven K-feldspar samples. The melt rocks yielded fully concordant ages with a weighted mean of 76.37±0.46Ma. Dating of the K-feldspar melt particles resulted in a series of younger plateau ages ranging from 75.11±0.36 to 76.11±0.35Ma. The melt rock results combined with the oldest syn-melt rock K-feldspar age and including all sources of uncertainties yielded a weighted mean age of 76.20±[0.29]Ma (2σ; MSWD=1.02, P=0.41), which is interpreted to represent the best-estimate age of the Lappajärvi impact. The age spread of at least 1.1±0.5Ma between the crystallization of the impact melt rocks and the K-feldspar melt particles warns against the use of single 40Ar/39Ar analysis to derive a meaningful impact age. In turn, the age offset monitors both rapid cooling of the Lappajärvi melt sheet versus slow cooling and impact-induced hydrothermal circulation within the crater basement, most likely driven by long-lasting heat flow from the hot central uplift of the impact structure. This interpretation is in line with the grain-size dependent argon diffusion parameters and apparent closure temperatures of ~230-410°C determined for various domain sizes of K-feldspars observed in this study. Our study shows that even in comparatively small impact craters post-impact hydrothermal activity can be estimated to last between ~600ka and ~1.6Ma and is technically resolved by means of the 40Ar/39Ar dating technique. Therefore, the longevity of hydrothermal systems in medium-sized impact craters might be an order of magnitude longer than previously estimated. Prolonged post-impact heat flow in medium-sized craters, in analogy to Lappajärvi, might have played an important role in the emergence of life on early Earth and possibly Mars. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)321-339
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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