Testing the ureilite projectile hypothesis for the El'gygytgyn impact: Determination of siderophile element abundances and Os isotope ratios in ICDP drill core samples and melt rocks


Corresponding author. E-mail: Steven.Goderis@vub.ac.be


The geochemical nature of the impactites from International Continental Scientific Drilling Project—El'gygytgyn lake drill core 1C is compared with that of impact melt rock fragments collected near the western rim of the structure and literature data. Concentrations of major and trace elements, with special focus on siderophile metals Cr, Co, Ni, and the platinum group elements, and isotope ratios of osmium (Os), were determined to test the hypothesis of an ureilite impactor at El'gygytgyn. Least squares mixing calculations suggest that the upper volcanic succession of rhyolites, dacites, and andesites were the main contributors to the polymict impact breccias. Additions of 2–13.5 vol% of basaltic inclusions recovered from drill core intervals between 391.6 and 423.0 mblf can almost entirely account for the compositional differences observed for the bottom of a reworked fallout deposit at 318.9 mblf, a polymict impact breccia at 471.4 mblf, and three impact melt rock fragments. However, the measured Os isotope ratios and slightly elevated PGE content (up to 0.262 ng g−1 Ir) of certain impactite samples, for which the CI-normalized logarithmic PGE signature displays a relatively flat (i.e., chondritic) pattern, can only be explained by the incorporation of a small meteoritic contribution. This component is also required to explain the exceptionally high siderophile element contents and corresponding Ni/Cr, Ni/Co, and Cr/Co ratios of impact glass spherules and spherule fragments that were recovered from the reworked fallout deposits and from terrace outcrops of the Enmyvaam River approximately 10 km southeast of the crater center. Mixing calculations support the presence of approximately 0.05 wt% and 0.50–18 wt% of ordinary chondrite (possibly type-LL) in several impactites and in the glassy spherules, respectively. The heterogeneous distribution of the meteoritic component provides clues for emplacement mechanisms of the various impactite units.