Abstract– Hypervelocity impact experiments on dry and water-saturated targets of fine-grained quartz sandstone, performed within the MEMIN project, have been investigated to determine the effects of porosity and pore space saturation on deformation mechanisms in the crater’s subsurface. A dry sandstone cube and a 90% water-saturated sandstone cube (Seeberger Sandstein, 20 cm side length, about 23% porosity) were impacted at the Fraunhofer EMI acceleration facilities by 2.5 mm diameter steel spheres at 4.8 and 5.3 km s−1, respectively. Microstructural postimpact analyses of the bisected craters revealed differences in the subsurface deformation for the dry and the wet target experiments. Enhanced grain comminution and compaction in the dry experiment and a wider extent of localized deformation in the saturated experiment suggest a direct influence of pore water on deformation mechanisms. We suggest that the pore water reduces the shock impedance mismatch between grains and pore space, and thus reduces the peak stresses at grain–grain contacts. This effect inhibits profound grain comminution and effective compaction, but allows for reduced shock wave attenuation and a more effective transport of energy into the target. The reduced shock wave attenuation is supposed to be responsible for the enhanced crater growth and the development of “near surface” fractures in the wet target.