Impact, Meteorites and Geological Processes
The development of the solar system has been shaped by collisions of cosmic bodies of different size. The collision history of the Solar System is, on the one hand, testified by the heavily cratered surfaces of the terrestrial planets (e.g. Moon, Mars, Mercury), and on the other, primitive meteorites are considered fragments of the earliest stage of planetary evolution.
Research at the Museum für Naturkunde aims at constraining the effect of collision events on the evolution of planets and life (mass extinctions, e.g. dinosaurs). Moreover, we want to obtain a better understanding of the highly dynamic processes and the modifications to minerals and rocks in meteorites and terrestrial rocks, as a result of the extreme pressure and temperature conditions generated during an impact event. Furthermore, the identification and dating of impact structures will contribute to completion of Earth’s impact cratering record, and the reconstruction of crater formation – at all scales - is essential for our grasp on the impact dynamics and material responses.
The methods applied comprise geophysical exploration of the crater subsurface, geological field studies at terrestrial craters, mineralogical and chemical analyses of rocks and minerals, as well as computer simulations and laboratory shock experiments.
Helmholtz-Alliance "Planetary Evolution and Life"
Was there or is there life on other celestial bodies? – This and further questions is the theme of the research alliance ‘Planetary Evolution and Life’ led by the institute of planetary research of the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR). This Alliance has been chosen by the senate of the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren e.V. (HGF) and is funded for the next five years.
- Lithopanspermia - Interplanetary transfer of life
- Numerical modelling of impact processes
- Planetary collisions: Effects of a giant impact on a planet's evolution.
- Influences of oblique impacts and topography on crater formation and environmental consequences.
- Effect of material properties and stratigraphy on crater chronology.
- Mass extinctions by impact events.
The collision of solid bodies is one of the most fundamental geological processes in our solar system. The research unit MEMIN (Multidisciplinary Experimental and Modeling Impact Crater Research Network) financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG) is aimed at understanding the dynamics of hypervelocity impact processes and the formation of meteorite craters by means of experimental and numerical techniques.
- Petrogenesis of impact melt from small impact crater (Tenoumer, Waber)
- Differentiation and emplacement of impact melt dikes (Offset Dikes) of the Sudbury Impact Structure
- Genesis of PGE-rich sulphide ores of the Sudbury Impact Strukture
- Formation and collapse of ejecta plumes from large meteorite impact - a case study at the Ries crater, Germany (Funding: DFG)
- NEO Impact Effects and Mitigation Measures (Funding by ESA)
- El´gygytgyn impact structure, Siberia: Investigation of a mid-size impact structure in volcanic target (DFG-SPP ICDP)
- The petrology, geochemistry and age determination of impact melt from the USGS-ICDP drill core Eyreville-B into the late Eocene Chesapeake Bay impact structure (Funding: DFG)
Meteorites and their parent bodies
- Impacts on asteroids (Lutetia, Vesta)
- Development of the hydrocode iSALE for two- and three-dimensional simulations of natural disasters
- Development of VIMoD, a software for three-dimensional visualization and analysis of numerical results
- Investigation of PGE-rich lithologies of the Bushveld intrusion, South Africa (petrogenesis, resource efficiency)
- Genesis of gold deposits (South Africa)
- Numerical simulations of tsunamis and landslides