New shock microstructures in titanite (CaTiSiO5) from the peak ring of the Chicxulub impact structure, Mexico

  • Nicholas E. TimmsEmail author
  • Mark A. Pearce
  • Timmons M. Erickson
  • Aaron J. Cavosie
  • Auriol S. P. Rae
  • John Wheeler
  • Axel Wittmann
  • Ludovic Ferrière
  • Michael H. Poelchau
  • Naotaka Tomioka
  • Gareth S. Collins
  • Sean P. S. Gulick
  • Cornelia Rasmussen
  • Joanna V. Morgan
  • IODP-ICDP Expedition 364 Scientists
Original Paper


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) = ~ \(\{ \bar{1}{11}\}\), 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 and recent impact evidence on Earth, microstructural analysis of titanite is here demonstrated to provide a new tool for recognizing impact deformation in rocks where other impact evidence may be erased, altered, or did not manifest due to generally low (< 20 GPa) shock pressure.


Titanite Shock metamorphism Mechanical twinning Dislocation slip system Meteorite impact EBSD 



The Chicxulub drilling expedition was funded by the IODP as Expedition 364 with co-funding from the ICDP, implementation by ECORD, and contributions and logistical support from the Yucatán state government and UNAM. This research used samples provided by the IODP, funding provided by a UK IODP NERC Grant (NE/P011195/1), and a Tescan Mira3 FE-SEM (ARC LE130100053) at the John de Laeter Centre, Curtin University. ASPR received support from the Barringer Family Fund for Meteorite Impact Research and STFC (ST/J001260/1), and thanks R.A.F. Grieve and G.R. Osinski for their support. AJC acknowledges support from the NASA Astrobiology program (Grant #NNAI3AA94A) and a Curtin Senior Research Fellowship. TME acknowledges support from a Lunar and Planetary Institute Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, the Center for Lunar Science and Exploration, and D. Kring. AW, SG, and CR are supported by National Science Foundation (OCE-1737087 and 1737351). This is a UTIG Contribution #3447. J. Darling, W.U. Reimold, and two anonymous reviewers are thanked for their comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. We thank D. Rubatto for editorial handling.

IODP-ICDP Expedition 364 Scientists, S. P. S. Gulick: Institute for Geophysics and Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA, J. V. Morgan: Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London, London, UK, E. Chenot: Géosciences Montpellier, Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, France, G. L. Christeson: Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA, P. Claeys: Analytical, Environmental and Geo-Chemistry, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium, C. S. Cockell: Centre for Astrobiology, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK, M. J. L. Coolen: Department of Chemistry, WA-Organic and Isotope Geochemistry Centre, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia, L. Ferrière: Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria, C. Gebhardt: Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre of Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany, K. Goto: International Research Institute of Disaster Science, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan, S. Green: British Geological Survey, Edinburgh, UK, H. Jones: Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA, D. A. Kring: Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, TX, USA, J. Lofi: Géosciences Montpellier, Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, France, C. M. Lowery: Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA, R. Ocampo-Torres: Groupe de Physico-Chimie de l’Atmosphère, L’Institut de Chimie et Procédés pour l’Énergie, l’Environnement et la Santé (ICPEES), Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France, L. Perez-Cruz: Instituto de Geofísica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma De México, Ciudad De México, Mexico, A. E. Pickersgill: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK, Argon Isotope Facility, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, East Kilbride, UK, M. H. Poelchau: Institut für Geo- und Umweltnaturwissenschaften, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg, Germany, A. S. P. Rae: Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London, London, UK, Institut für Geo- und Umweltnaturwissenschaften, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg, Germany, C. Rasmussen: Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA, M. Rebolledo-Vieyra: Independent consultant, Cancun, Mexico, U. Riller: Institut für Geologie, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, H. Sato: Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Kanagawa, Japan, J. Smit: Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences (FALW), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, S. M. Tikoo: Earth and Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA, N. Tomioka: Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Kochi, Japan, J. Urrutia-Fucugauchi: Instituto de Geofísica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma De México, Ciudad De México, Mexico, M. T. Whalen: Department of Geosciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, USA, A. Wittmann: Eyring Materials Center, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA, L. Xiao: School of Earth Sciences, Planetary Science Institute, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan, China, K. E. Yamaguchi: Department of Chemistry, Toho University, Chiba, Japan, NASA Astrobiology Institute.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas E. Timms
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark A. Pearce
    • 2
  • Timmons M. Erickson
    • 1
    • 3
  • Aaron J. Cavosie
    • 1
  • Auriol S. P. Rae
    • 4
    • 5
  • John Wheeler
    • 6
  • Axel Wittmann
    • 7
  • Ludovic Ferrière
    • 8
  • Michael H. Poelchau
    • 5
  • Naotaka Tomioka
    • 9
  • Gareth S. Collins
    • 4
  • Sean P. S. Gulick
    • 10
  • Cornelia Rasmussen
    • 10
  • Joanna V. Morgan
    • 4
  • IODP-ICDP Expedition 364 Scientists
  1. 1.The Institute for Geoscience Research (TIGeR), Space Science and Technology Centre, School of Earth and Planetary SciencesCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.CSIRO Mineral ResourcesAustralian Resources Research CentreKensingtonAustralia
  3. 3.Jacobs-JETS, NASA Johnson Space CenterAstromaterials Research and Exploration Science DivisionHoustonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Earth Science and EngineeringImperial College LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.Institut für Geo- und Umweltnaturwissenschaften, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  6. 6.Department of Earth and Ocean SciencesUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  7. 7.Eyring Materials CenterArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  8. 8.Natural History Museum1010 ViennaAustria
  9. 9.Kochi Institute for Core Sample ResearchJapan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and TechnologyKochiJapan
  10. 10.Institute for Geophysics and Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of GeosciencesUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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