Abstract— The occurrence of shock metamorphosed quartz is the most common petrographic criterion for the identification of terrestrial impact structures and lithologies. Its utility is due to its almost ubiquitous occurrence in terrestrial rocks, its overall stability and the fact that a variety of shock metamorphic effects, occurring over a range of shock pressures, have been well documented. These shock effects have been generally duplicated in shock recovery experiments and, thus, serve as shock pressure barometers. After reviewing the general character of shock effects in quartz, the differences between experimental and natural shock events and their potential effects on the shock metamorphism of quartz are explored. The short pulse lengths in experiments may account for the difficulty in synthesizing the high-pressure polymorphs, coesite and stishovite, compared to natural occurrences. In addition, post-shock thermal effects are possible in natural events, which can affect shock altered physical properties, such as refractive index, and cause annealing of shock damage and recrystallization. The orientations of planar microstructures, however, are unaffected by post-impact thermal events, except if quartz is recrystallized, and provide the best natural shock barometer in terms of utility and occurrence. The nature of planar microstructures, particularly planar deformation features (PDFs), is discussed in some detail and a scheme of variations in orientations with shock pressure is provided. The effect of post-impact events on PDFs is generally limited to annealing of the original glass lamellae to produce decorated PDFs, resulting from the exsolution of dissolved water during recrystallization. Basal (0001) PDFs differ from other PDF orientations in that they are multiple, mechanical Brazil twins, which are difficult to detect if not partially annealed and decorated. The occurrence and significance of shock metamorphosed quartz and its other phases (namely, coesite, stishovite, diaplectic glass and lechatelierite) are discussed for terrestrial impact structures in both crystalline (non-porous) and sedimentary (porous) targets. The bulk of past studies have dealt with crystalline targets, where variations in recorded shock pressure in quartz have been used to constrain aspects of the cratering process and to estimate crater dimensions at eroded structures. In sedimentary targets, the effect of pore space results in an inhomogeneous distribution in recorded shock pressure and temperature, which requires a different classification scheme for the variation of recorded shock compared to that in crystalline targets. This is discussed, along with examples of variations in the relative abundances of planar microstructures and their orientations, which are attributed to textural variations in sedimentary target rocks. Examples of the shock metamorphism of quartz in distal ejecta, such as at the K/T boundary, and from nuclear explosions are illustrated and are equivalent to that of known impact structures, except with respect to characteristics that are due to long-term, post-shock thermal effects. Finally, the differences between the deformation and phase transformation of quartz by shock and by endogenic, tectonic and volcanic processes are discussed. We confirm previous conclusions that they are completely dissimilar in character, due to the vastly different physical conditions and time scales typical for shock events, compared to tectonic and volcanic events. Well-characterized and documented shock effects in quartz are unequivocal indicators of impact in the natural environment.