Small impact cratering processes produce distinctive charcoal assemblages

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The frequency of crater-producing asteroid impacts on Earth is not known. Of the predicted Holocene asteroid impact craters of <200 m diameter, only ~30% have been located. Until now there has been no way to distinguish them from “normal” terrestrial structures unless pieces of iron meteorites were found nearby. We show that the reflective properties of charcoal found in the proximal ejecta of small impact craters are distinct from those produced by wildfires. Impact-produced charcoals and wildfire charcoals must derive from different heating regimes. We suggest that charcoal with specific reflective properties may help to recognize the meteoritic origin of small craters.



Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant ImpChar, agreement no. 749157; the 2016 Barringer Family Fund for Meteorite Impact Research (Arizona, USA); National Science Centre Poland grants 2020/39/D/ST10/02675 and 2013/09/B/ST10/01666.


impact crater, crater, meteorite impact, ejecta, charcoal, Morasko, Kaali, Whitecourt, Poland, Estonia, Canada, wildefires, charcoal reflectivity, crater identification, asteroid impact, event deposits


Geology vol. 50 (11), 2022, pp. 1276-1280.


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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego