A Late Paleocene age for Greenland's Hiawatha impact structure

Gavin G. Kenny, William R. Hyde, Michael Storey, Adam A. Garde, Martin J. Whitehouse, Pierre Beck, Leif Johansson, Anne Sofie Søndergaard, Anders A. Bjørk, Joseph A. MacGregor, Shfaqat A. Khan, Jérémie Mouginot, Brandon C. Johnson, Elizabeth A. Silber, Daniel K.P. Wielandt, Kurt H. Kjær, Nicolaj K. Larsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The ~31-km-wide Hiawatha structure, located beneath Hiawatha Glacier in northwestern Greenland, has been proposed as an impact structure that may have formed after the Pleistocene inception of the Greenland Ice Sheet. To date the structure, we conducted 40Ar/39Ar analyses on glaciofluvial sand and U-Pb analyses on zircon separated from glaciofluvial pebbles of impact melt rock, all sampled immediately downstream of Hiawatha Glacier. Unshocked zircon in the impact melt rocks dates to ~1915 million years (Ma), consistent with felsic intrusions found in local bedrock. The 40Ar/39Ar data indicate Late Paleocene resetting and shocked zircon dates to 57.99 ± 0.54 Ma, which we interpret as the impact age. Consequently, the Hiawatha impact structure far predates Pleistocene glaciation and is unrelated to either the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum or flood basalt volcanism in east Greenland. However, it was contemporaneous with the Paleocene Carbon Isotope Maximum, although the impact's exact paleoenvironmental and climatic significance awaits further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabm2434
Number of pages11
JournalScience advances
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2022

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources


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