Imperial College London

Professor Gareth Collins

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Professor of Planetary Science



+44 (0)20 7594 1518g.collins Website




4.83Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus





Publication Type

164 results found

Johnson BC, Milliken RE, Lewis KW, Collins GSet al., 2021, Impact generated porosity in Gale crater and implications for the density of sedimentary rocks in lower Aeolis Mons, Icarus, Vol: 366, Pages: 1-11, ISSN: 0019-1035

Sedimentary rocks in Gale crater record important information about the climatic history and evolution of Mars. Recent gravity measurements and modeling indicate strata encountered by the Curiosity rover have a very low density (1680 ± 180 kg m−3) and thus unusually high porosity. Missing in these models, however, is the role of deeper crustal porosity on the observed gravity signatures. Here we simulate the impact formation of Gale crater and find that impact generated porosity results in a negative gravity anomaly that decreases in magnitude with distance from the basin center. Incorporating this expected post-impact gravity signature into models for the bulk density of strata in lower Mt. Sharp, we find a best-fit density of 2300 ± 130 kg m−3 for an impact into a target with no pre-impact porosity. Models incorporating pre-impact porosity result in densities that are up to 200 kg/m3 lower. These revised densities increase the maximum potential burial depth of rocks along the rover traverse, allowing for the possibility Gale crater may once have been filled with sediment.

Journal article

Fernando B, Wójcicka N, Froment M, Maguire R, Stähler SC, Rolland L, Collins GS, Karatekin O, Larmat C, Sansom EK, Teanby NA, Spiga A, Karakostas F, Leng K, NissenMeyer T, Kawamura T, Giardini D, Lognonné P, Banerdt B, Daubar IJet al., 2021, Listening for the landing: seismic detections of perseverance's arrival at Mars with InSight, Earth and Space Science, Vol: 8, Pages: 1-21, ISSN: 2333-5084

The entry, descent, and landing (EDL) sequence of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover will act as a seismic source of known temporal and spatial localization. We evaluate whether the signals produced by this event will be detectable by the InSight lander (3,452 km away), comparing expected signal amplitudes to noise levels at the instrument. Modeling is undertaken to predict the propagation of the acoustic signal (purely in the atmosphere), the seismoacoustic signal (atmosphere-to-ground coupled), and the elastodynamic seismic signal (in the ground only). Our results suggest that the acoustic and seismoacoustic signals, produced by the atmospheric shock wave from the EDL, are unlikely to be detectable due to the pattern of winds in the martian atmosphere and the weak air-to-ground coupling, respectively. However, the elastodynamic seismic signal produced by the impact of the spacecraft's cruise balance masses on the surface may be detected by InSight. The upper and lower bounds on predicted ground velocity at InSight are 2.0 × 10−14 and 1.3 × 10−10 m s−1. The upper value is above the noise floor at the time of landing 40% of the time on average. The large range of possible values reflects uncertainties in the current understanding of impact-generated seismic waves and their subsequent propagation and attenuation through Mars. Uncertainty in the detectability also stems from the indeterminate instrument noise level at the time of this future event. A positive detection would be of enormous value in constraining the seismic properties of Mars, and in improving our understanding of impact-generated seismic waves.

Journal article

Rajšić A, Miljković K, Collins GS, Wünnemann K, Daubar IJ, Wójcicka N, Wieczorek MAet al., 2021, Seismic efficiency for simple crater formation in the Martian top crust analogue, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, Vol: 126, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 2169-9097

The first seismometer operating on the surface of another planet was deployed by the NASA InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission to Mars. It gives us an opportunity to investigate the seismicity of Mars, including any seismic activity caused by small meteorite bombardment. Detectability of impact generated seismic signals is closely related to the seismic efficiency, defined as the fraction of the impactor's kinetic energy transferred into the seismic energy in a target medium. This work investigated the seismic efficiency of the Martian near surface associated with small meteorite impacts on Mars. We used the iSALE‐2D (Impact‐Simplified Arbitrary Lagrangian Eulerian) shock physics code to simulate the formation of the meter‐size impact craters, and we used a recently formed 1.5 m diameter crater as a case study. The Martian crust was simulated as unfractured nonporous bedrock, fractured bedrock with 25% porosity, and highly porous regolith with 44% and 65% porosity. We used appropriate strength and porosity models defined in previous works, and we identified that the seismic efficiency is very sensitive to the speed of sound and elastic threshold in the target medium. We constrained the value of the impact‐related seismic efficiency to be between the order of ∼10‐7 to 10‐6 for the regolith and ∼10‐4 to 10‐3 for the bedrock. For new impacts occurring on Mars, this work can help understand the near‐surface properties of the Martian crust, and it contributes to the understanding of impact detectability via seismic signals as a function of the target media.

Journal article

Halim SH, Crawford IA, Collins GS, Joy KH, Davison TMet al., 2021, Assessing the survivability of biomarkers within terrestrial material impacting the lunar surface, Icarus, Vol: 354, Pages: 1-15, ISSN: 0019-1035

The history of organic and biological markers (biomarkers) on the Earth is effectively non-existent in the geological record >3.8 Ga ago. Here, we investigate the potential for terrestrial material (i.e., terrestrial meteorites) to be transferred to the Moon by a large impact on Earth and subsequently survive impact with the lunar surface, using the iSALE shock physics code. Three-dimensional impact simulations show that a typical basin-forming impact on Earth can eject solid fragments equivalent to ~10−3 of an impactor mass at speeds sufficient to transfer from Earth to the Moon. Previous modelling of meteorite survivability has relied heavily upon the assumption that peak-shock pressures can be used as a proxy for gauging survival of projectiles and their possible biomarker constituents. Here, we show the importance of considering both pressure and temperature within the projectile, and the inclusion of both shock and shear heating, in assessing biomarker survival. Assuming that they survive launch from Earth, we show that some biomarker molecules within terrestrial meteorites are likely to survive impact with the Moon, especially at the lower end of the range of typical impact velocities for terrestrial meteorites (2.5 km s−1). The survival of larger biomarkers (e.g., microfossils) is also assessed, and we find limited, but significant, survival for low impact velocity and high target porosity scenarios. Thermal degradation of biomarkers shortly after impact depends heavily upon where the projectile material lands, whether it is buried or remains on the surface, and the related cooling timescales. Comparing sandstone and limestone projectiles shows similar temperature and pressure profiles for the same impact velocities, with limestone providing slightly more favourable conditions for biomarker survival.

Journal article

Devillepoix HAR, Cupák M, Bland PA, Sansom EK, Towner MC, Howie RM, Hartig BAD, Jansen-Sturgeon T, Shober PM, Anderson SL, Benedix GK, Busan D, Sayers R, Jenniskens P, Albers J, Herd CDK, Hill PJA, Brown PG, Krzeminski Z, Osinski GR, Aoudjehane HC, Benkhaldoun Z, Jabiri A, Guennoun M, Barka A, Darhmaoui H, Daly L, Collins GS, McMullan S, Suttle MD, Ireland T, Bonning G, Baeza L, Alrefay TY, Horner J, Swindle TD, Hergenrother CW, Fries MD, Tomkins A, Langendam A, Rushmer T, ONeill C, Janches D, Hormaechea JL, Shaw C, Young JS, Alexander M, Mardon AD, Tate JRet al., 2020, A global fireball observatory, Planetary and Space Science, Vol: 191, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 0032-0633

The world’s meteorite collections contain a very rich picture of what the early Solar System would have been made of, however the lack of spatial context with respect to their parent population for these samples is an issue. The asteroid population is equally as rich in surface mineralogies, and mapping these two populations (meteorites and asteroids) together is a major challenge for planetary science. Directly probing asteroids achieves this at a high cost. Observing meteorite falls and calculating their pre-atmospheric orbit on the other hand, is a cheaper way to approach the problem. The Global Fireball Observatory (GFO) collaboration was established in 2017 and brings together multiple institutions (from Australia, USA, Canada, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and Argentina) to maximise the area for fireball observation time and therefore meteorite recoveries. The members have a choice to operate independently, but they can also choose to work in a fully collaborative manner with other GFO partners. This efficient approach leverages the experience gained from the Desert Fireball Network (DFN) pathfinder project in Australia. The state-of-the art technology (DFN camera systems and data reduction) and experience of the support teams is shared between all partners, freeing up time for science investigations and meteorite searching. With all networks combined together, the GFO collaboration already covers 0.6% of the Earth’s surface for meteorite recovery as of mid-2019, and aims to reach 2% in the early 2020s. We estimate that after 5 years of operation, the GFO will have observed a fireball from virtually every meteorite type. This combined effort will bring new, fresh, extra-terrestrial material to the labs, yielding new insights about the formation of the Solar System.

Journal article

Wojcicka N, Collins G, Bastow I, Teanby N, Miljkovic K, Rajsic A, Daubar I, Lognonne Pet al., 2020, The seismic moment and seismic efficiency of small impacts on Mars, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, Vol: 125, Pages: 1-20, ISSN: 2169-9097

Since landing in late 2018, the InSight lander has been recording seismic signals on the surface of Mars. Despite nominal pre-landing estimates of 1–3 meteorite impacts detected per Earth year, none have yet been identified seismically. To inform revised detectability estimates, we simulated numerically a suite of small impacts onto Martian regolith and characterized their seismic source properties. For the impactor size and velocity range most relevant for InSight, crater diameters are 1-30 m. We found that in this range scalar seismic moment is 106−1010Nm and increases almost linearly with impact momentum. The ratio of horizontal to vertical seismic moment tensor components is∼1, implying an almost isotropic P-wave source, for vertical impacts. Seismic efficiencies are ∼10−6, dependent on the target crushing strength and impact velocity. Our predictions of relatively low seismic efficiency and seismic moment suggest that meteorite impact de-tectability on Mars is lower than previously assumed. Detection chances are best for impacts forming craters of diameter>10m.

Journal article

Smith RC, Hill J, Mouradian SL, Piggott MD, Collins GSet al., 2020, A new methodology for performing large scale simulations of tsunami generated by deformable submarine slides, Ocean Modelling, Vol: 153, Pages: 1-56, ISSN: 1463-5003

Large tsunamis can be generated by submarine slides, but these events are rare on human timescales and challenging to observe. Experiments and numerical modelling offer methods to understand the mechanisms by which they generate waves and what the potential hazard might be. However, to fully capture the complex waveform generated by a submarine slide, the slide dynamics must also be accurately modelled. It is computationally difficult to model both a three-dimensional submarine slide whilst simultaneously simulating oceanic-scale tsunamis. Past studies have either coupled localised models of the slide generation to oceanic-scale tsunami simulations or simplified the slide dynamics. Here, we present a new methodology of model coupling that generates the wave in the ocean-scale model via boundary-condition coupling of a two-dimensional dynamic slide simulation. We verify our coupling methodology by comparing model results to a previous simulation of a tsunamigenic slide in the Gulf of Mexico. We then examine the effect of slide deformation on the risk posed by hypothetical submarine slides around the UK. We show the deformable submarine slide simulations produce larger waves than the solid slide simulations due to the details of acceleration and velocity of the slide, although lateral spreading is not modelled. This work offers a new methodology for simulating oceanic-scale tsunamis caused by submarine slides using the output of a two–dimensional, multi-material simulation as input into a three–dimensional ocean model. This facilitates future exploration of the tsunami risk posed by tsunamigenic submarine slides that affect coastlines not normally prone to tsunamis.

Journal article

Raducan SD, Davison TM, Collins GS, 2020, Morphological diversity of impact craters on asteroid (16) Psyche: insight from numerical models, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, Vol: 125, Pages: 1-19, ISSN: 2169-9097

The asteroid (16) Psyche, target of NASA's “Psyche” mission, is thought to be one of the most massive exposed iron cores in the solar system. Earth‐based observations suggest that Psyche has a metal‐rich surface; however, its internal structure cannot be determined from ground‐based observations. Here we simulate impacts into a variety of possible target structures on Psyche and show the possible diversity in crater morphologies that the “Psyche” mission could encounter. If Psyche's interior is homogeneous, then the mission will find simple bowl‐shaped craters, with a depth‐diameter ratio diagnostic of rock or iron. Craters will be much deeper than those on other visited asteroids and possess much more spectacular rims if the surface is dominated by metallic iron. On the other hand, if Psyche has a layered structure, the spacecraft could find craters with more complex morphologies, such as concentric or flat‐floored craters. Furthermore, if ferrovolcanism occurred on Psyche, then the morphology of craters less than 2 km in diameter could be even more exotic. Based on three to four proposed large craters on Psyche's surface, model size‐frequency distributions suggest that if Psyche is indeed an exposed iron core, then the spacecraft will encounter a very old and evolved surface, that would be 4.5 Gyr old. For a rocky surface, then Psyche could be at least 3 Gyr old.

Journal article

Daubar IJ, Lognonné P, Teanby NA, Collins GS, Clinton J, Stähler S, Spiga A, Karakostas F, Ceylan S, Malin M, McEwen AS, Maguire R, Charalambous C, Onodera K, Lucas A, Rolland L, Vaubaillon J, Kawamura T, Böse M, Horleston A, Driel M, Stevanović J, Miljković K, Fernando B, Huang Q, Giardini D, Larmat CS, Leng K, Rajšić A, Schmerr N, Wójcicka N, Pike T, Wookey J, Rodriguez S, Garcia R, Banks ME, Margerin L, Posiolova L, Banerdt Bet al., 2020, A new crater near inSight: implications for seismic impact detectability on Mars, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, Vol: 125, ISSN: 2169-9097

A new 1.5 meter diameter impact crater was discovered on Mars only ~40 km from the InSight lander. Context camera images constrained its formation between February 21 and April 6, 2019; follow‐up HiRISE images resolved the crater. During this time period, three seismic events were identified in InSight data. We derive expected seismic signal characteristics and use them to evaluate each of the seismic events. However, none of them can definitively be associated with this source. Atmospheric perturbations are generally expected to be generated during impacts; however, in this case, no signal could be identified as related to the known impact. Using scaling relationships based on the terrestrial and lunar analogs and numerical modeling, we predict the amplitude, peak frequency, and duration of the seismic signal that would have emanated from this impact. The predicted amplitude falls near the lowest levels of the measured seismometer noise for the predicted frequency. Hence it is not surprising this impact event was not positively identified in the seismic data. Finding this crater was a lucky event as its formation this close to InSight has a probability of only ~0.2, and the odds of capturing it in before and after images is extremely low. We revisit impact‐seismic discriminators in light of real experience with a seismometer on the martian surface. Using measured noise of the instrument, we revise our previous prediction of seismic impact detections downwards, from ~a few to tens, to just ~2 per Earth year, still with an order of magnitude uncertainty.

Journal article

Timms NE, Kirkland CL, Cavosie AJ, Rae ASP, Rickard WDA, Evans NJ, Erickson TM, Wittmann A, Ferrière L, Collins GS, Gulick SPSet al., 2020, Shocked titanite records Chicxulub hydrothermal alteration and impact age, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol: 281, Pages: 12-30, ISSN: 0016-7037

Hydrothermal activity is a common phenomenon in the wake of impact events, yet identifying and dating impact hydrothermal systems can be challenging. This study provides the first detailed assessment of the effects of shock microstructures and impact-related alteration on the U-Pb systematics and trace elements of titanite (CaTiSiO5), focusing on shocked granite target rocks from the peak ring of the Chicxulub impact structure, Mexico. A >1 mm long, shock-twinned titanite grain preserves a dense network of irregular microcracks, some of which exploit shock twin interfaces. Secondary microcrystalline anatase and pyrite are heterogeneously distributed along some microcracks. In situ laser ablation multi-collector inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-MC-ICPMS) analysis reveals a mixture of three end-member Pb components. The Pb components are: 1) common Pb, consistent with the Pb isotopic signature of adjacent alkali feldspar; 2) radiogenic Pb accumulated since magmatic crystallization; and 3) a secondary, younger Pb signature due to impact-related complete radiogenic Pb loss. The youngest derived ages define a regression from common Pb that intersects Concordia at 67 ± 4 Ma, in agreement with the established age of 66.04 ± 0.05 Ma for the Chicxulub impact event. Contour maps of LA-MC-ICPMS data reveal that the young ages are spatially restricted to microstructurally-complex domains that correlate with significant depletion in trace elements (REE-Y-Zr-Nb-Mo-Sn-Th) and reduction in magnitude of the Eu/Eu* anomaly. Mapping by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) show that patterns of localised element depletion in titanite are spatially related to microcracks, which are enriched in Al. The spatial correlation of ages and trace element abundance is consistent with localised removal of Pb and other trace elements from a pervasive network of fast fluid pathways in fractured domains via a fluid-mediated element transport proc

Journal article

Collins G, Patel N, Davison T, Rae A, Morgan J, Gulick S, IODPICDP Expedition 364 & Third-Party Scientistset al., 2020, A steeply-inclined trajectory for the Chicxulub impact, Nature Communications, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 2041-1723

The environmental severity of large impacts on Earth is influenced by their impact trajectory. Impact direction and angle to the target plane affect the volume and depth of origin of vaporized target, as well as the trajectories of ejected material. The asteroid impact that formed the 66 Ma Chicxulub crater had a profound and catastrophic effect on Earth’s environment,but the impact trajectory is debated. Here we show that impact angle and direction can be diagnosed by asymmetries in the subsurface structure of the Chicxulub crater. Comparison of 3D numerical simulations of Chicxulub-scale impacts with geophysical observations suggests that the Chicxulub crater was formed by a steeply-inclined (45 -60° to horizontal) impact from the northeast; several lines of evidence rule out a low angle (< 30°) impact. Asteeply-inclined impact produces a nearly symmetric distribution of ejected rock and releases more climate-changing gases per impactor mass than either a very shallow or near-vertical impact.

Journal article

Stickle AM, Bruck Syal M, Cheng AF, Collins GS, Davison TM, Gisler G, Güldemeister N, Heberling T, Luther R, Michel P, Miller P, Owen JM, Rainey ESG, Rivkin AS, Rosch T, Wünnemann Ket al., 2020, Benchmarking impact hydrocodes in the strength regime: Implications for modeling deflection by a kinetic impactor, Icarus, Vol: 338, Pages: 1-24, ISSN: 0019-1035

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is a NASA-sponsored mission that will be the first direct test of the kinetic impactor technique for planetary defense. The DART spacecraft will impact into Didymos-B, the moon of the binary system 65803 Didymos, and the resulting period change will be measured from Earth. Impact simulations will be used to predict the crater size and momentum enhancement expected from the DART impact. Because the specific material properties (strength, porosity, internal structure) of the Didymos-B target are unknown, a wide variety of numerical simulations must be performed to better understand possible impact outcomes. This simulation campaign will involve a large parameter space being simulated using multiple different shock physics hydrocodes. In order to understand better the behaviors and properties of numerical simulation codes applicable to the DART impact, a benchmarking and validation program using different numerical codes to solve a set of standard problems was designed and implemented. The problems were designed to test the effects of material strength, porosity, damage models, and target geometry on the ejecta following an impact and thus the momentum transfer efficiency. Several important results were identified from comparing simulations across codes, including the effects of model resolution and porosity and strength model choice: 1) momentum transfer predictions almost uniformly exhibit a larger variation than predictions of crater size; 2) the choice of strength model, and the values used for material strength, are significantly more important in the prediction of crater size and momentum enhancement than variation between codes; 3) predictions for crater size and momentum enhancement tend to be similar (within 15‐20%) when similar strength models are used in different codes. These results will be used to better design a modeling plan for the DART mission as well as to better understand the potential results that may be

Journal article

Banerdt WB, Smrekar SE, Banfield D, Giardini D, Golombek M, Johnson CL, Lognonne P, Spiga A, Spohn T, Perrin C, Stahler SC, Collins G, Pike WTet al., 2020, Initial results from the InSight mission on Mars, Nature Geoscience, Vol: 13, Pages: 183-189, ISSN: 1752-0894

NASA’s InSight (Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission landed in Elysium Planitia on Mars on 26 November 2018. It aims to determine the interior structure, composition and thermal state of Mars, as well as constrain present-day seismicity and impact cratering rates. Such information is key to understanding the differentiation and subsequent thermal evolution of Mars, and thus the forces that shape the planet’s surface geology and volatile processes. Here we report an overview of the first ten months of geophysical observations by InSight. As of 30 September 2019, 174 seismic events have been recorded by the lander’s seismometer, including over 20 events of moment magnitude Mw = 3–4. The detections thus far are consistent with tectonic origins, with no impact-induced seismicity yet observed, and indicate a seismically active planet. An assessment of these detections suggests that the frequency of global seismic events below approximately Mw = 3 is similar to that of terrestrial intraplate seismic activity, but there are fewer larger quakes; no quakes exceeding Mw = 4 have been observed. The lander’s other instruments—two cameras, atmospheric pressure, temperature and wind sensors, a magnetometer and a radiometer—have yielded much more than the intended supporting data for seismometer noise characterization: magnetic field measurements indicate a local magnetic field that is ten-times stronger than orbital estimates and meteorological measurements reveal a more dynamic atmosphere than expected, hosting baroclinic and gravity waves and convective vortices. With the mission due to last for an entire Martian year or longer, these results will be built on by further measurements by the InSight lander.

Journal article

Snelling B, Neethling S, Horsburgh K, Collins G, Piggott Met al., 2020, Uncertainty quantification of landslide generated waves using Gaussian process emulation and variance-based sensitivity analysis, Water, Vol: 12, ISSN: 2073-4441

Simulations of landslide generated waves (LGWs) are prone to high levels of uncertainty. Here we present a probabilistic sensitivity analysis of an LGW model. The LGW model was realised through a smooth particle hydrodynamics (SPH) simulator, which is capable of modelling fluids with complex rheologies and includes flexible boundary conditions. This LGW model has parameters defining the landslide, including its rheology, that contribute to uncertainty in the simulated wave characteristics. Given the computational expense of this simulator, we made use of the extensive uncertainty quantification functionality of the Dakota toolkit to train a Gaussian process emulator (GPE) using a dataset derived from SPH simulations. Using the emulator we conducted a variance-based decomposition to quantify how much each input parameter to the SPH simulation contributed to the uncertainty in the simulated wave characteristics. Our results indicate that the landslide’s volume and initial submergence depth contribute the most to uncertainty in the wave characteristics, while the landslide rheological parameters have a much smaller influence. When estimated run-up is used as the indicator for LGW hazard, the slope angle of the shore being inundated is shown to be an additional influential parameter. This study facilitates probabilistic hazard analysis of LGWs, because it reveals which source characteristics contribute most to uncertainty in terms of how hazardous a wave will be, thereby allowing computational resources to be focused on better understanding that uncertainty.

Journal article

Snelling BE, Collins GS, Piggott MD, Neethling SJet al., 2020, Improvements to a smooth particle hydrodynamics simulator for investigating submarine landslide generated waves, International Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids, Vol: 92, Pages: 744-764, ISSN: 0271-2091

Submarine landslides can exhibit complex rheologies, including a finite yield stress and shear thinning, yet are often simulated numerically using a Newtonian fluid rheology and simplistic boundary conditions. Here we present improvements made to a Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics simulator to allow the accurate simulation of submarine landslide generated waves. The improvements include the addition of Bingham and Herschel‐Bulkley rheologies, which better simulate the behavior of submarine mudflows. The interaction between the base of the slide and the slope is represented more accurately through the use of a viscous stress boundary condition. This condition treats the interface between the seafloor and the slide as a fluid boundary layer with a user‐defined viscosity and length scale. Modifications to the pressure and density calculations are described that improve their stability for landslide generated wave scenarios. An option for pressure decomposition is introduced to prevent particle locking under high pressure. This facilitates the application of this simulator to landslide scenarios beneath significant water depths. Additional modifications to the reaveraging and renormalization routines improve the stability of the free surface and fluid density. We present the mathematical formulations of these improvements alongside commentary on their performance and applicability to landslide generated wave modeling. The modifications are verified against analytical fluid flow solutions and a wave generation experiment.

Journal article

Raducan SD, Davison TM, Collins GS, 2020, The effects of asteroid layering on ejecta mass-velocity distribution and implications for impact momentum transfer, Planetary and Space Science, Vol: 180, ISSN: 0032-0633

Most bodies in the Solar System do not have a homogeneous structure. Understanding the outcome of an impact into regolith layers of different properties is especially important for NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) and ESA’s Hera missions. Here we used the iSALE shock physics code to simulate the DART impact into three different target scenarios in the strength regime: a homogeneous porous half-space; layered targets with a porous weak layer overlying a stronger bedrock; and targets with exponentially decreasing porosity with depth. For each scenario we determined the sensitivity of crater morphology, ejecta mass-velocity distribution and momentum transferred from the impact for deflection, , to target properties and structure. We found that for a homogeneous porous half-space, cohesion and porosity play a significant role and the DART impact is expected to produce a between 1 and 3. In a two-layer target scenario, the presence of a less porous, stronger lower layer close to the surface can cause both amplification and reduction of ejected mass and momentum relative to the homogeneous upper-layer case. For the case of DART, the momentum enhancement can change by up to 90%. Impacts into targets with an exponentially decreasing porosity with depth only produced an enhancement in the ejected mass and momentum for sharp decreases in porosity that occur within 6 m of the asteroid surface. Together with measurements of the DART crater by the Hera mission, these results can be used to test the predictive capabilities of numerical models of asteroid deflection.

Journal article

Thompson SL, Lauson HS, Melosh HJ, Collins G, Stewart STet al., 2019, M-ANEOS

A FORTRAN77 program for the construction of thermodynamic equations of state, which extends the ANEOS computer code developed at Sandia National Laboratories


Gulick SPS, Bralower T, Ormö J, Hall B, Grice K, Schaefer B, Lyons S, Freeman KH, Morgan J, Artemieva N, Kaskes P, de Graaff SJ, Whalen M, Collins G, Tikoo SM, Verhagen C, Christeson GL, Claeys P, Coolen M, Goderis S, Goto K, Grieve R, McCall N, Osinski G, Rae A, Riller U, Smit J, Vajda V, Wittmann A, and the Expedition 364 Scientistset al., 2019, The first day of the Cenozoic, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol: 116, Pages: 19342-19351, ISSN: 0027-8424

Highly expanded Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary section from the Chicxulub peak ring, recovered by International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP)–International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) Expedition 364, provides an unprecedented window into the immediate aftermath of the impact. Site M0077 includes ∼130 m of impact melt rock and suevite deposited the first day of the Cenozoic covered by <1 m of micrite-rich carbonate deposited over subsequent weeks to years. We present an interpreted series of events based on analyses of these drill cores. Within minutes of the impact, centrally uplifted basement rock collapsed outward to form a peak ring capped in melt rock. Within tens of minutes, the peak ring was covered in ∼40 m of brecciated impact melt rock and coarse-grained suevite, including clasts possibly generated by melt–water interactions during ocean resurge. Within an hour, resurge crested the peak ring, depositing a 10-m-thick layer of suevite with increased particle roundness and sorting. Within hours, the full resurge deposit formed through settling and seiches, resulting in an 80-m-thick fining-upward, sorted suevite in the flooded crater. Within a day, the reflected rim-wave tsunami reached the crater, depositing a cross-bedded sand-to-fine gravel layer enriched in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons overlain by charcoal fragments. Generation of a deep crater open to the ocean allowed rapid flooding and sediment accumulation rates among the highest known in the geologic record. The high-resolution section provides insight into the impact environmental effects, including charcoal as evidence for impact-induced wildfires and a paucity of sulfur-rich evaporites from the target supporting rapid global cooling and darkness as extinction mechanisms.

Journal article

Raducan SD, Davison TM, Luther R, Collins GSet al., 2019, The role of asteroid strength, porosity and internal friction in impact momentum transfer, Icarus, Vol: 329, Pages: 282-295, ISSN: 0019-1035

Earth is continually impacted by very small asteroids and debris, and a larger object, though uncommon, could produce a severe natural hazard. During impact crater formation the ballistic ejection of material out of the crater is a major process, which holds significance for an impact study into the deflection of asteroids. In this study we numerically simulate impacts into low-gravity, strength dominated asteroid surfaces using the iSALE shock physics code, and consider the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission as a case study. We find that target cohesion, initial porosity, and internal friction coefficient greatly influence ejecta mass/velocity/launch-position distributions and hence the amount by which an asteroid can be deflected. Our results show that as the cohesion is decreased the ratio of ejected momentum to impactor momentum, β − 1, increases; β − 1 also increases as the initial porosity and internal friction coefficient of the asteroid surface decrease. Using nominal impactor parameters and reasonable estimates for the material properties of the Didymos binary asteroid, the DART target, our simulations show that the ejecta produced from the impact can enhance the deflection by a factor of 2 to 4. We use numerical impact simulations that replicate conditions in several laboratory experiments to demonstrate that our approach to quantify ejecta properties is consistent with impact experiments in analogous materials. Finally, we investigate the self-consistency between the crater size and ejection speed scaling relationships previously derived from the point-source approximation for impacts into the same target material.

Journal article

McMullan S, Collins GS, Davison TM, 2019, ASTEROID TO AIRBURST; COMPARING SEMI-ANALYTICAL AIRBURST MODELS TO HYDROCODES, 82nd Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical-Society (MetSoc), Publisher: WILEY, ISSN: 1086-9379

Conference paper

McMullan S, Daly L, Collins GS, Bland Pet al., 2019, THE UK FIREBALL NETWORK: STAGE TWO OF THE GLOBAL FIREBALL OBSERVATORY., 82nd Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical-Society (MetSoc), Publisher: WILEY, ISSN: 1086-9379

Conference paper

Rae ASP, Collins G, Morgan J, Salge T, Christeson GL, Leung J, Lofi J, Gulick SPS, Poelchau M, Riller U, Gebhardt C, Grieve RA, Osinski GRet al., 2019, Impact-induced porosity and micro-fracturing at the Chicxulub impact structure, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, Vol: 124, Pages: 1960-1978, ISSN: 2169-9097

Porosity and its distribution in impact craters has an important effect on the petrophysical properties of impactites: seismic wave-speeds and reflectivity, rock permeability, strength, and density. These properties are important for the identification of potential craters and the understanding of the process and consequences of cratering. The Chicxulub impact structure, recently drilled by the joint International Ocean Discovery Program and International Continental scientific Drilling Program Expedition 364, provides a unique opportunity to compare direct observations of impactites with geophysical observations and models. Here, we combine small scale petrographic and petrophysical measurements with larger scale geophysical measurements and numerical simulations of the Chicxulub impact structure. Our aim is to assess the cause of unusually high porosities within the Chicxulub peak ring and the capability of numerical impact simulations to predict the gravity signature and the distribution and texture of porosity within craters. We show that high porosities within the Chicxulub peak ring are primarily caused by shock-induced micro-fracturing. These fractures have preferred orientations, which can be predicted by considering the orientations of principal stresses during shock, and subsequent deformation during peak-ring formation. Our results demonstrate that numerical impact simulations, implementing the Dynamic Collapse Model of peak-ring formation, can accurately predict the distribution and orientation of impact-induced micro-fractures in large craters which plays an important role in the geophysical signature of impact structures.

Journal article

McMullan S, Collins GS, 2019, Uncertainty quantification in continuous fragmentation airburst models, Icarus, Vol: 327, Pages: 19-35, ISSN: 0019-1035

As evidenced by the Chelyabinsk and Tunguska airburst events in Russia, decameter-scale Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) can pose a hazard to human life and infrastructure from the energy they deposit in the atmosphere as they break up. To understand the potential damage these small NEOs can cause on Earth's surface, it is imperative to be able to model their atmospheric entry quickly and accurately. Here we compare three semi-analytical models of asteroid airbursts that differ in their descriptions of fragment separation and spreading. Each model can be calibrated to produce a good fit to the energy deposition curve inferred from Chelyabinsk observations, but in each case the implied initial meteoroid strength is different and when the calibrated models are upscaled to Tunguska, the results diverge. This introduces an inter-model uncertainty that compounds the large range of uncertain physical and model parameters that influence probabilistic hazard assessment. Uncertainty quantification of airburst energy deposition was performed for a theoretical impacting object with H-magnitude 27, assuming no prior knowledge of any other impactor or model parameter. Each of the three models produces a different distribution of airburst outcomes, however, the variation attributable to physical parameter uncertainty is far larger than the inter-model differences. To constrain the initial conditions of the Tunguska event, the same uncertainty quantification was performed for an H-magnitude 24 event. Among the scenarios consistent with Tunguska observations (5–10 km burst altitude, 10–60° trajectory angle, 3–50 MT TNT total energy release) the most likely range of impact conditions was: radius of 25–75 m, mass of 1× 10 8 – 2.5× 10 9 kg, initial velocity of 11.5–33 km/s, and angle of 25–60°.

Journal article

Lyons RJ, Bowling TJ, Ciesla FJ, Davison T, Collins Get al., 2019, The effects of impacts on the cooling rates of iron meteorites, Meteoritics and Planetary Science, Vol: 54, Pages: 1604-1618, ISSN: 1086-9379

Iron meteorites provide a record of the thermal evolution of their parent bodies, with cooling rates inferred from the structures observed in the Widmanstätten pattern. Traditional planetesimal thermal models suggest that meteorite samples derived from the same iron core would have identical cooling rates, possibly providing constraints on the sizes and structures of their parent bodies. However, some meteorite groups exhibit a range of cooling rates or point to uncomfortably small parent bodies whose survival is difficult to reconcile with dynamical models. Together, these suggest that some meteorites are indicating a more complicated origin. To date, thermal models have largely ignored the effects that impacts would have on the thermal evolution of the iron meteorite parent bodies. Here we report numerical simulations investigating the effects that impacts at different times have on cooling rates of cores of differentiated planetesimals. We find that impacts that occur when the core is near or above its solidus, but the mantle has largely crystallized can expose iron near the surface of the body, leading to rapid and nonuniform cooling. The time period when a planetesimal can be affected in this way can range between 20 and 70 Myr after formation for a typical 100 km radius planetesimal. Collisions during this time would have been common, and thus played an important role in shaping the properties of iron meteorites.

Journal article

Derrick JG, Rutherford ME, Chapman DJ, Davison TM, Duarte JPP, Farbaniec L, Bland PA, Eakins DE, Collins GSet al., 2019, Investigating shock processes in bimodal powder compaction through modelling and experiment at the mesoscale, International Journal of Solids and Structures, Vol: 163, Pages: 211-219, ISSN: 0020-7683

Impact-driven compaction is a proposed mechanism for the lithification of primordial bimodal granular mixtures from which many meteorites derive. We present a numerical-experimental mesoscale study that investigates the fundamental processes in shock compaction of this heterogeneous matter, using analog materials. Experiments were performed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility generating real-time, in-situ, X-ray radiographs of the shock's passage in representative granular systems. Mesoscale simulations were performed using a shock physics code and set-ups that were geometrically identical to the experiments. We considered two scenarios: pure matrix, and matrix with a single chondrule. Good agreement was found between experiments and models in terms of shock position and post-shock compaction in the pure powder setup. When considering a single grain embedded in matrix we observed a spatial porosity anisotropy in its vicinity; the compaction was greater in the region immediately shockward of the grain, and less in its lee. We introduced the porosity vector, C, which points in the direction of lowest compaction across a chondrule. This direction-dependent observation may present a new way to decode the magnitude, and direction, of a single shock wave experienced by a meteorite in the past.

Journal article

Timms NE, Pearce MA, Erickson TM, Cavosie AJ, Rae ASP, Wheeler J, Wittmann A, Ferriere L, Poelchau MH, Tomioka N, Collins GS, Gulick SPS, Rasmussen C, Morgan JV, Gulick SPS, Morgan JV, Chenot E, Christeson GL, Claeys P, Cockell CS, Coolen MJL, Ferriere L, Gebhardt C, Goto K, Green S, Jones H, Kring DA, Lofi J, Lowery CM, Ocampo-Torres R, Perez-Cruz L, Pickersgill AE, Poelchau MH, Rae ASP, Rasmussen C, Rebolledo-Vieyra M, Riller U, Sato H, Smit J, Tikoo SM, Tomioka N, Urrutia-Fucugauchi J, Whalen MT, Wittmann A, Xiao L, Yamaguchi KEet al., 2019, New shock microstructures in titanite (CaTiSiO5) from the peak ring of the Chicxulub impact structure, Mexico, Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, Vol: 174, ISSN: 0010-7999

Accessory mineral geochronometers such as apatite, baddeleyite, monazite, xenotime and zircon are increasingly being recognized for their ability to preserve diagnostic microstructural evidence of hypervelocity-impact processes. To date, little is known about the response of titanite to shock metamorphism, even though it is a widespread accessory phase and a U–Pb geochronometer. Here we report two new mechanical twin modes in titanite within shocked granitoid from the Chicxulub impact structure, Mexico. Titanite grains in the newly acquired core from the International Ocean Discovery Program Hole M0077A preserve multiple sets of polysynthetic twins, most commonly with composition planes (K1) = ~  {1¯11} , and shear direction (η1) = < 110 > , and less commonly with the mode K1 = {130}, η1 = ~ <522 > . In some grains, {130} deformation bands have formed concurrently with the deformation twins, indicating dislocation slip with Burgers vector b = < 341 > can be active during impact metamorphism. Titanite twins in the modes described here have not been reported from endogenically deformed rocks; we, therefore, propose this newly identified twin form as a result of shock deformation. Formation conditions of the twins have not been experimentally calibrated, and are here empirically constrained by the presence of planar deformation features in quartz (12 ± 5 and ~ 17 ± 5 GPa) and the absence of shock twins in zircon (< 20 GPa). While the lower threshold of titanite twin formation remains poorly constrained, identification of these twins highlight the utility of titanite as a shock indicator over the pressure range between 12 and 17 GPa. Given the challenges to find diagnostic indicators of shock metamorphism to identify both ancient

Journal article

Urrutia-Fucugauchi J, Pérez-Cruz L, Morgan J, Gulick S, Wittmann A, Lofi J, Morgan JV, Gulick SPS, Chenot E, Christeson G, Claeys P, Cockell C, Coolen MJL, Ferrière L, Gebhardt C, Goto K, Jones H, Kring DA, Lofi J, Lowery C, Mellett C, Ocampo-Torres R, Perez-Cruz L, Pickersgill A, Poelchau M, Rae A, Rasmussen C, Rebolledo-Vieyra M, Riller U, Sato H, Smit J, Tikoo-Schantz S, Tomioka N, Urrutia-Fucugauchi J, Whalen M, Wittmann A, Xiao L, Yamaguchi KE, Bralower T, Collins GSet al., 2019, Peering inside the peak ring of the Chicxulub Impact Crater—its nature and formation mechanism, Geology Today, Vol: 35, Pages: 68-72, ISSN: 0266-6979

© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd, The Geologists' Association & The Geological Society of London The IODP-ICDP Expedition 364 drilled into the Chicxulub crater, peering inside its well-preserved peak ring. The borehole penetrated a sequence of post-impact carbonates and a unit of suevites and clast-poor impact melt rock at the top of the peak ring. Beneath this sequence, basement rocks cut by pre-impact and impact dykes, with breccias and melt, were encountered at shallow depths. The basement rocks are fractured, shocked and uplifted, consistent with dynamic collapse, uplift and long-distance transport of weakened material during collapse of the transient cavity and final crater formation.

Journal article

Bellucci JJ, Nemchin AA, Grange M, Robinson KL, Collins G, Whitehouse MJ, Snape JF, Norman MD, Kring DAet al., 2019, Terrestrial-like zircon in a clast from an Apollo 14 breccia, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Vol: 510, Pages: 173-185, ISSN: 0012-821X

A felsite clast in lunar breccia Apollo sample 14321, which has been interpreted as Imbrium ejecta, has petrographic and chemical features that are consistent with formation conditions commonly assigned to both lunar and terrestrial environments. A simple model of Imbrium impact ejecta presented here indicates a pre-impact depth of 30–70 km, i.e. near the base of the lunar crust. Results from Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry trace element analyses indicate that zircon grains recovered from this clast have positive Ce/Ce ⁎ anomalies corresponding to an oxygen fugacity +2 to +4 log units higher than that of the lunar mantle, with crystallization temperatures of 771±88 to 810 ± 37 °C (2σ) that are unusually low for lunar magmas. Additionally, Ti-in-quartz and zircon calculations indicate a pressure of crystallization of 6.9±1.2 kbar, corresponding to a depth of crystallization of 167±27 km on the Moon, contradicting ejecta modelling results. Such low-T, high-fO 2 , and high-P have not been observed for any other lunar clasts, are not known to exist on the Moon, and are broadly similar to those found in terrestrial magmas. The terrestrial-like redox conditions inferred for the parental magma of these zircon grains and other accessory minerals in the felsite contrasts with the presence of Fe-metal, bulk clast geochemistry, and the Pb isotope composition of K-feldspar grains within the clast, all of which are consistent with a lunar origin. The dichotomy between redox conditions and the depth of origin inferred from the zircon compositions compared to the ejecta modelling necessitates a multi-stage petrogenesis. Two, currently unresolvable hypotheses for the origin and history of the clast are allowed by these data. The first postulates that the relatively oxidizing conditions were developed in a lunar magma, possibly by fractional crystallization and enrichment of incompatible elements in a fluid-rich, phosphate-saturated magma

Journal article

Rae A, Collins G, Poelchau M, Riller U, Davison T, Grieve R, Osinski G, Morgan J, IODPICDP Expedition 364 Scientistset al., 2019, Stress-strain evolution during peak-ring formation: a case study of the Chicxulub impact structure, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, Vol: 124, Pages: 396-417, ISSN: 2169-9097

Deformation is a ubiquitous process that occurs to rocks during impact cratering; thus, quantifying the deformation of those rocks can provide first‐order constraints on the process of impact cratering. Until now, specific quantification of the conditions of stress and strain within models of impact cratering has not been compared to structural observations. This paper describes a methodology to analyze stress and strain within numerical impact models. This method is then used to predict deformation and its cause during peak‐ring formation: a complex process that is not fully understood, requiring remarkable transient weakening and causing a significant redistribution of crustal rocks. The presented results are timely due to the recent Joint International Ocean Discovery Program and International Continental Scientific Drilling Program drilling of the peak ring within the Chicxulub crater, permitting direct comparison between the deformation history within numerical models and the structural history of rocks from a peak ring. The modeled results are remarkably consistent with observed deformation within the Chicxulub peak ring, constraining the following: (1) the orientation of rocks relative to their preimpact orientation; (2) total strain, strain rates, and the type of shear during each stage of cratering; and (3) the orientation and magnitude of principal stresses during each stage of cratering. The methodology and analysis used to generate these predictions is general and, therefore, allows numerical impact models to be constrained by structural observations of impact craters and for those models to produce quantitative predictions.

Journal article

Hopkins RT, Osinski GR, Collins GS, 2019, Formation of complex craters in layered targets with material anisotropy, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, Vol: 124, Pages: 349-373, ISSN: 2169-9097

Meteorite impacts often occur in layered targets, where the strength of the target varies as a function of depth, but this complexity is often not represented in numerical impact simulations because of the high computational cost of resolving thin layers. To address this limitation, we developed a method to approximate the effect of multiple thin weak layers within a sedimentary sequence using a single material layer to represent the entire sequence. Our approach, implemented in the iSALE (impact‐Simplified Arbitrary Lagrangian Eulerian) shock physics code, combines an anisotropic yield criterion with a cell‐based method to track the orientation of layers. To demonstrate the efficacy of the method and constrain parameters of the anisotropic strength model required to replicate the effects of thin, weak layers, we compare results of simulations of a ~20 – 25‐km diameter complex crater on Earth using the new method to those from simulations that explicitly resolve multiple thin weak layers. We show that our approach allows for a reduction in computational cost, negating the need for an increase in spatial resolution to resolve thin layers in the target, while replicating crater formation and final morphology from the high‐resolution models. In keeping with field observations, we also find that anisotropic layers may be responsible for a lack of central uplift expression observed at many craters formed in targets with thick sedimentary layers (e.g., the Haughton and Ries impact structures).

Journal article

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