Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater

The Chesapeake Bay impact crater was formed by a bolide that impacted the eastern shore of North America about 35 million years ago, in the late Eocene epoch.
 It is one of the best-preserved "wet-target" or marine impact craters, and the largest known impact crater in the U.S. Continued slumping of sediments over the rubble of the crater have helped shape Chesapeake Bay.

What does this have to do with architecture?  Well, in the traditional sense, nothing really.  However, the bay and the Eastern shore are certainly among the grandest creations of a design process that I know of, even though the design is fractal and cataclysmic in origin.  In this light, landscape and geography could then be considered the architecture of nature.

Until 1983, no one suspected the existence of a large impact crater buried beneath the lower part of the Chesapeake Bay and its surrounding peninsulas. The first hint was a 20 cm (8 in) thick layer of ejecta that turned up in a drilling core taken off Atlantic City, New Jersey, far to the north. The layer contained the fused glass beads called tektites and shocked quartz grains that are unmistakable signs of a bolide impact.
The continual slumping of the rubble within the crater has affected the flow of the rivers and shaped the Chesapeake Bay. The impact crater created a long-lasting topographic depression, which helped predetermine the course of local rivers and the eventual location of Chesapeake Bay. Most important for present-day inhabitants of the area, the impact disrupted aquifers. The present freshwater aquifers lie above a deep salty brine, making the entire lower Chesapeake Bay area susceptible to groundwater contamination.
I have always been geographically connected to this event, as I grew up on the Susquehanna River in town called Dauphin.  The course of the Susquehanna is in fact probably following a fracture line from this bolide "invader".  

No comments: