An international and multidisciplinary drilling project into a young complex impact structure: The 2004 ICDP Bosumtwi Crater Drilling Project - An overview

Christian Koeberl, Bernd Milkereit, Jonathan T. Overpeck, Christopher A. Scholz, Philip Y.O. Amoako, Daniel Boamah, Sylvester K. Danuor, Tobias Karp, Jochem Kueck, Robert E. Hecky, John W. King, John A. Peack

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


The Bosumtwi impact crater in Ghana, arguably the best-preserved complex young impact structure town on Earth, displays a pronounced rim and is almost completely filled by Lake Bosumtwi, a hydrologically closed basin. It is the source crater of the Ivory Coast tektites. The structure was excavated in 2.1-2.2 Gyr old metasediments and metavolcanics of the Birimian Supergroup. A drilling project was conceived that would combine two major scientific interests in this crater: 1) to obtain a complete paleoenvironmental record from the time of crater formation about one million years ago, at a near-equatorial location in Africa for which very few data are available so far, and 2) to obtain a complete record of impactites at the central uplift and in the crater moat, for ground truthing and comparison with other structures. Within the framework of an international and multidisciplinary drilling project led by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), 16 drill cores were obtained from June to October 2004 at six locations within Lake Bosumtwi, which is 8.5 km in diameter. The 14 sediment cores are currently being investigated for paleoenvironmental indicators. The two impactite cores LB-07A and LB-08A were drilled into the deepest section of the annular moat (540 m) and the flank of the central uplift (450 m), respectively. They are the main subject of this special issue of Meteoritics & Planetary Science, which represents the first detailed presentations of results from the deep drilling into the Bosumtwi impactite sequence. Drilling progressed in both cases through the impact breccia layer into fractured bedrock. LB-07A comprises lithic (in the uppermost part) and suevitic impact breccias with appreciable amounts of impact melt fragments. The lithic clast content is dominated by graywacke, besides various metapelites, quartzite, and a carbonate target component. Shock deformation in the form of quartz grains with planar microdeformations is abundant. First chemical results indicate a number of suevite samples that are strongly enriched in siderophile elements and Mg, but the presence of a definite meteoritic component in these samples cannot be confirmed due to high indigenous values. Core LB-08A comprises suevitic breccia in the uppermost part, followed with depth by a thick sequence of graywacke-dominated metasediment with suevite and a few granitoid dike intercalations. It is assumed that the metasediment package represents bedrock intersected in the flank of the central uplift. Both 7A and 8A suevite intersections differ from suevites outside of the northern crater rim. Deep drilling results confirmed the gross structure of the crater as imaged by the pre-drilling seismic surveys. Borehole geophysical studies conducted in the two boreholes confirmed the low seismic velocities for the post-impact sediments (less than 1800 m/s) and the impactites (2600-3300 m/s). The impactites exhibit very high porosities (up to 30 vol%), which has important implications for mechanical rock stability. The statistical analysis of the velocities and densities reveals a seismically transparent impactite sequence (free of prominent internal reflections). Petrophysical core analyses provide no support for the presence of a homogeneous magnetic unit (= melt breccia) within the center of the structure. Borehole vector magnetic data point to a patchy distribution of highly magnetic rocks within the impactite sequence. The lack of a coherent melt sheet, or indeed of any significant amounts of melt rock in the crater fill, is in contrast to expectations from modeling and pre-drilling geophysics, and presents an interesting problem for comparative studies and requires re-evaluation of existing data from other terrestrial impact craters, as well as modeling parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-511
Number of pages29
JournalMeteoritics and Planetary Science
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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