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Chesapeake Bay Impact Structure Deep Drilling Project



Chesapeake BayThe late Eocene Chesapeake Bay impact structure is among the largest and best preserved impact craters on Earth. Research topics include studies of impact processes, regional basin evolution (comparing impact effects with "normal" effects produced by tectonics, global sea-level, and sediment supply on a passive continental margin), hydrogeology, borehole and regional geophysics, and the deep biosphere. The subsurface structure of the Chesapeake Bay crater is constrained by several shallow coreholes, marine seismic-reflection surveys, and gravity analyses. Major subdivisions of the structure are a circa 38-km-diameter central crater enclosed by a 24-km-wide annular trough. Several characteristics make the Chesapeake Bay structure unique among subaerial and submarine impact craters on Earth. The goal of the project is to drill a 2.2-km-deep corehole near the central uplift within the "moat" of the structure's central crater, to obtain as thick and undisturbed a post-impact succession as possible, and a thick section of impactites, and to reach the sub-crater basement to study the shock barometry and fracturing of these rocks.
Drilling in the central Chesapeake Bay crater will provide important constraints on cratering processes in multi-layered marine targets in general and for comparison with results from the larger Chicxulub crater, in particular. The drilling will provide unique constraints on

  1. the crater structure, depth, morphology, and formative processes, and
  2. the crater materials, including impactite and basement lithologies, stratigraphy, mineralogy, chemistry, fractures, and physical properties, and
  3. numerical models of impact processes.

(Photo ©:NASA)



North America, U.S.A., United States of America, Virginia, Chesapeake Bay, Eyreville



37° 19' 18'' N, 75° 58' 32'' W (Please scroll down to end of page for more information.)


Project Start and End
  • Begin of drilling September 15, 2005
  • End of drilling May, 2006


Programs and Funding


Principal Investigators
  • Gregory S. Gohn, U.S. Geological Survey at Reston, National Center
  • Christian Koeberl, University of Vienna, Center for Earth Sciences, Department of Lithospheric Research
  • Kenneth G. Miller, Rutgers University, Wright Labs, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Wolf Uwe Reimold, Museum fuer Naturkunde, Leibniz Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity at the Humboldt University Berlin


Cooperating Principal Investigators
  • Henning Dypvik, University of Oslo, Department of Geosciences, Petroleum Geology and Geophysics
  • James Wright Horton, Jr., U.S. Geological Survey at Reston, National Center
  • H. Jay Melosh, University of Arizona, Department of Planetary Sciences, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
  • Gregory S. Mountain, Rutgers University, Wright Labs, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • C. Wylie Poag, U.S. Geological Survey at Woods Hole
  • David S. Powars, U.S. Geological Survey at Reston


Partners and Contractors



CBAY, Cenozoic Sequence, Climate Change, Eocene, Global Environment, ICDP-2004/06, Impact Crater, Paleoclimatology, Sea-level Changes, U.S.A., Virginia


Current State



Google Earth/Maps