Yallalie: a Buried Structure of Possible Impact Origin in the Perth Basin, Western Australia
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Copyright © 1999 Cambridge University Press - Research Article
An enigmatic buried structure, located in Mesozoic sedimentary rocks in the Perth Basin, Western Australia, was discovered in 1990 by Ampol Exploration. The basin-like Yallalie structure (centred on 30 26' 40.3'' S, 115 46' 16.4'' E) is circular in plan view and about 12 km in diameter. High resolution,seismic-reflection profiles across the structure show a basin-shaped area of chaotic reflections that extend to a depth of approximately 2 km below the surface. The structure has sharp boundaries with surrounding faulted, but otherwise relatively undisturbed, rocks. In the centre of the structure there is an uplifted area approximately 3?4 km across, similar to those described from complex meteorite impact structures. The seismically defined structure coincides with a circular topographic depression, and image processing of digital elevation data has allowed recognition of concentric and radial structures extending as far as 40 km from the centre of the depression. Gravity surveys show the structure to be associated with a positive gravity anomaly of about 30 gu. Aeromagnetic surveys have defined annular anomalies associated with the central uplifted section, and possibly margins, of the structure. A search for siderophile element enrichments (by neutron activation analysis) in the rocks of the structure, which would indicate the presence of a meteorite component, proved negative. Quartz grains in cores that penetrate the structure show the development of prismatic cleavage fractures and irregular, slightly curved planes formed by brittle fracture. An allochthonous breccia of Late Cretaceous rocks occurs a few kilometres west of the western margin of the structure. Quartz grains from a thin veneer of Tertiary sediments that drape the structure are essentially undeformed. However, multiple sets of closely spaced planar deformation features in quartz, characteristic of highly shocked rocks, have yet to be observed in the rocks of the Yallalie structure and the allochthonous breccia. The morphology of the Yallalie structure determined from topographic and geophysical data suggests strongly that it is of impact origin. Geological and geochemical evidence is equivocal, but is not inconsistent with this interpretation.
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