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Alamo megabreccia: Record of a late devonian impact in southern Nevada

November 25, 1996

The Alamo breccia is probably the most voluminous known outcropping carbonate megabreccia. It occupies ~4000 km2 across 11 mountain ranges in southern Nevada, has an average thickness of ~70 m, and contains a volume of 250+ km3. The breccia is a single bed, of early Frasnian (early Late Devonian) age, that formed in the wake of a giant slide that deposited a lower chaotic debrite, containing clasts as large as 80 × 500 m, and an upper exquisitely graded turbidite. It is anomalously intercalated with cyclic shallow-water platform carbonates of the Guilmette Formation. The Alamo breccia is interpreted as a product of the Alamo event, a nearby marine impact of an extraterrestrial object, whereby impact-generated crustal shock waves and/or marine superwaves detached the upper ~60 m of platform along a horizontal surface. Loosened bedrock slid seaward across the platform, and some of it accumulated as the lower debrite. Rock-water exchange induced landward-propagated tsunami(s), whose uprush and/or backwash deposited the upper turbidite, partly above sea level. Evidence for impact includes shockedquartz grains, an iridium anomaly, and reworked conodonts, all found only within the breccia. Because the Alamo breccia is not known outside of Nevada, and because the early Frasnian time of the Alamo event is not noted for accelerated extinctions, being ~3 m.y. before the Frasnian-Famennian impact(s) and biotic crisis, the impact was probably only of moderate size.

Publication Year 1996
Title Alamo megabreccia: Record of a late devonian impact in southern Nevada
Authors John E. Warme, Charles Sandberg
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title GSA Today
Index ID 70206853
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center