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Abstract

The 3.6 Ma, 18-km-diameter El'gygytgyn impact structure (Arctic Russia) is unique among the currently known terrestrial impact craters in that it is the only one that was formed in acid volcanic rocks. Previous analyses of impactites from El'gygytgyn showed minor enrichments of the siderophile elements, including Ir, which, together with distinct Cr enrichments, gave rise to speculation that an achondritic projectile was involved. We studied the major and trace element composition in samples from the new ICDP drill core obtained near the center of the structure, as well as the chromium isotopic composition of an impact glass sample collected on the surface. Several suevitic breccias from the upper part of the suevite sequence in the drill core show higher Cr and Ni contents compared with felsic volcanic rocks in the lower part of the core and from surface samples. However, it is difficult to unambiguously establish a meteoritic component from trace element data, as input from (rare) mafic target rocks is a possibility. In contrast, the Cr isotopic composition of the impact glass sample yielded a nonterrestrial ε54Cr value of −0.72 ± 0.31 (2 std. err.). This negative ε54Cr is different from known carbonaceous chondrite values (ε54Cr of +0.95 to +1.65), but is nearly identical to reported values for ureilites (approximately −0.77). The value is, however, also within analytical error of eucrites (approximately −0.38) and ordinary chondrites (approximately −0.42). Given the chemical signatures found in previous analyses of El'gytgytgyn impactites and the similarity of our Cr isotopic data to ureilites, we suggest that the impacting asteroid could have been an F-type asteroid of mixed composition, similar to the recent Almahata Sitta fall in Sudan.