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Shocked quartz

Shocked quartz is a form of quartz that has a microscopic structure that is different from normal quartz. Under intense pressure (but limited temperature), the crystalline structure of quartz will be deformed along planes inside the crystal. These planes, which show up as lines under a microscope, are called planar deformation features (PDFs), or shock lamellae.



Shocked quartz was discovered after underground nuclear bomb testing, which caused the intense pressures required to form shocked quartz. Eugene Shoemaker showed that shocked quartz is also found inside craters created by meteor impact, such as the Barringer Crater.[1] The presence of shocked quartz proves that these craters were formed by an impact: a volcano would not generate the pressure required.


Shocked quartz is also found worldwide, in a thin layer at the boundary between Cretaceous and Tertiary rocks. This is further evidence (in addition to iridium enrichment) that the transition between the two geological eras was caused by a large impact.


Shocked quartz is associated with two high pressure polymorphs of silicon dioxide: coesite and stishovite. These polymorphs have a different crystal structure than standard quartz. Again, this structure can only be formed by intense pressure, but moderate temperatures. High temperatures would anneal the quartz back to its standard form. Coesite and stishovite are thus also indicative of impact (or nuclear explosion).


  1. ^ Eugene M. Shoemaker (1959). "Impact mechanics at Meteor crater, Arizona". U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Open File Report.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Shocked_quartz". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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