Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Survival of Fossilised Diatoms and Forams in Hypervelocity Impacts with Peak Shock Pressures in the 1 – 19 GPa Range

Burchell, M.J., Harriss, K.H., Price, M.C., Yolland, L. (2017) Survival of Fossilised Diatoms and Forams in Hypervelocity Impacts with Peak Shock Pressures in the 1 – 19 GPa Range. Icarus, 290 . pp. 81-88. ISSN 0019-1035. (doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2017.02.028) (KAR id:60690)

PDF Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English

Download this file
[thumbnail of Diatom Impacts Jan  2017.pdf]
Request a format suitable for use with assistive technology e.g. a screenreader
Microsoft Word Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication
[thumbnail of Diatom Impacts Jan  2017.docx]
Official URL:


Previously it has been shown that diatom fossils embedded in ice could survive impacts at speeds of up to 5 km s-1 and peak shock pressures up to 12 GPa. Here we confirm these results using a different technique, with diatoms carried in liquid water suspensions at impact speeds of 2 to 6 km s-1. These correspond to peak shock pressures of 3.8 to 19.8 GPa. We also report on the results of similar experiments using forams, at impact speeds of 4.67 km s-1 (when carried in water) and 4.73 km s-1 (when carried in ice), corresponding to peak shock pressures of 11.6 and 13.1 GPa respectively. In all cases we again find survival of recognisable fragments, with mean fragment size of order 20 – 25 µm. We compare our results to the peak shock pressures that ejecta from giant impacts on the Earth would experience if it subsequently impacted the Moon. We find that 98% of impacts of terrestrial ejecta on the Moon would have experienced peak pressures less than 20 GPa if the ejecta were a soft rock (sandstone). This falls to 82% of meteorites if the ejecta were a hard rock (granite). This assumes impacts on a solid lunar surface. If we approximate the surface as a loose regolith, over 99% of the impacts involve peak shock pressures below 20 GPa. Either way, the results show that a significant fraction of terrestrial meteorites impacting the Moon will do so with peak shock pressures which in our experiments permit the survival of recognisable fossil fragments.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.icarus.2017.02.028
Uncontrolled keywords: Astrobiology, Moon, Impact Processes
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy > QB651 Planets, Minor
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Physics and Astronomy
Funders: [37325] UNSPECIFIED
Depositing User: Mark Burchell
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2017 13:39 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 19:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.