Variations in magnetic properties of target basalts with the direction of asteroid impact: Example from Lonar crater, India


  • [This article was corrected on August 7th 2012 after initial online publication. Author name M. Arif was changed to Md. Arif in every instance throughout the text.]

Corresponding author. E-mail:;


Abstract– The Lonar crater in Maharashtra state, India, has been completely excavated on the Deccan Traps basalt (approximately 65 Ma) at approximately 570 ± 47 ka by an oblique impact of a possible chondritic asteroid that struck the preimpact target from the east at an angle of approximately 30–45o to the horizon where the total duration of the shock event was approximately 1 s. It is shown by our early work that the distribution of ejecta and deformation of target rocks around the crater rim are symmetrical to the east–west plane of impact (Misra et al. 2010). The present study shows that some of the rock magnetic properties of these shocked target basalts, e.g., low-field anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS), natural remanent magnetization (NRM)/bulk susceptibility (χ), and high-coercivity and high-temperature (HC_HT) magnetization component, are also almost symmetrically oriented with reference to the plane of impact. Studies on the relative displacements of K3 (minimum) AMS axes of shocked basalts from around the crater rim and from the adjacent target rocks to the approximately 2–3 km west of the crater center suggest that the impact stress could have branched out into the major southwestward and northwestward components in the downrange direction immediately after the impact. The biaxial distribution of AMS axes in stereographic plots for the unshocked basalts transforms mostly into triaxial distribution for the shocked basalts, although transitional type distribution also exists. The degree of anisotropy (P′) of AMS ellipsoids of the shocked basalts decreases by approximately 2% when compared with those of the unshocked target (approximately 1.03). The NRM/χ (Am−1) values of the shocked basalts on the rim of the Lonar crater do not show much change in the uprange or downrange direction on and close to the east–west plane of impact, and the values are only approximately 1.5 times higher on average over the unshocked basalts around the crater. However, the values become approximately 1.4–16.4 times higher for the shocked basalts on the crater rim, which occur obliquely to the plane of impact. The target basalts at approximately 2–3 km west of the crater center in the downrange also show a significant increase (up to approximately 26 times higher) in NRM/χ. The majority of the shocked basalt samples (approximately 73%) from around the crater rim, in general, show a lowering of REM, except those from approximately 2–3 km west of the crater center in the downrange, where nearly half of the sample population shows a higher REM of approximately 3.63% in average. The shocked target basalts around the Lonar crater also acquired an HC_HT magnetization component due to impact. These HC_HT components are mostly oriented in the uprange direction and are symmetrically disposed about the east–west plane of impact, making an obtuse angle with the direction of impact. The low-coercivity and low-temperature (LC_LT) components of both the unshocked and shocked basalts are statistically identical to the present day field (PDF) direction. This could be chemical and/or viscous remanent magnetization acquired by the target basalts during the last 570 ± 47 ka, subsequent to the formation of the Lonar crater. The shocked Lonar target basalts appear to have remagnetized under high impact shock pressure and at low temperature of approximately 200–300 °C, where Ti-rich titanomagnetite was the main magnetic remanence carrier.