Crater at Serpent Mound
By Thomas T. Johson
Ohio is an ancient sea bed dating back hundreds of millions of years, to a time when the earth was covered with a salt water sea. Its fossil-rich sediments extend more than 5000 feet deep. Located on the edge of the Appalachian Mountain Escarpment, the Serpent Mound Crater has unusual geology, which dates back about 600 million years to the pre-Cambrian period. Rocks exposed in the crater date from 438 million to 345 million years old.
At that time there was a “T” shaped fault in the sea floor just east of Serpent Mound, running north-south along the sea floor from Sinking Spring to Locust Grove, and east-west parallel to Parker Ridge Road. Over 300 million years ago an asteroid or meteor collided with the seabed, creating a crater 5 miles wide. This is the only place on earth where an object from space has collided with a rift or fault in the earth’s surface.
The impact created magnetic anomalies across the crater. The faulting in the crater has a direct effect on the weather, causing severe storms to dissipate as they approach the rim. Local residents tell of the batteries on vehicles and cell phones being mysteriously drained.
Scientists have speculated since the 1830’s about the Serpent Mound Disturbance. In 1838 John Locke termed it the “Sunken Mountain” due to the geology turned upside down. In 1925 Walter Bucher renamed the area a “Crypto-Volcanic” structure, theorizing that the area exploded from beneath the surface. This theory is still reflected in the bronze marker which overlooks the crater from Woodland Altars on State Route 41.
Moon rocks brought back by Apollo Astronauts finally unlocked the mystery. The moon is covered with impact craters, unaffected by time due to the lack of atmosphere. Most impact craters have Breccia, a rock that has been blasted apart and re-formed to resemble concrete. Comparing the moon rocks to Serpent Mound Breccia, NASA researchers found a tiny Quartz particle called a PDF, slightly larger than a human hair.
PDF stands for Planar Deformation, meaning that the micro-quartz is etched with tiny straight lines which can only be made by high velocity impact. You could call the PDF a “smoking gun”. Breccia from the Serpent Mound crater also contains trace elements from the asteroid such as Cobalt, Chromium, Nickel, Iron, Zinc, and Iridium, a rare element usually associated with space rocks and impact craters.
Then image below is of a shatter cone from the area. It is the shock wave as it travels through the bed
rock. The impression on the rock fans out in the direction of the shock
wave and makes a cone shaped pattern.
You can see samples of shocked rocks such as breccia at the House of Phacops rock shop in Locust Grove. The shop offers tours of the crater and workshops for universities, upon request.