New insights into the size and timing of the Lawn Hill impact structure: Relationship to the Century Zn - Pb deposit

J. A. Salisbury*, A. G. Tomkins, B. F. Schaefer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The Lawn Hill circular structure in northwest Queensland contains unambiguous evidence of an extraterrestrial impact, including planar deformation features in quartz, impact diamonds, widespread shatter cone formation and impact melt breccia in the Mesoproterozoic basement. The question of its relevance to ore genesis is investigated because the world-class Century Zn - Pb deposit is situated at the conjunction of the 100+ km Termite Range Fault and the previously defined margin of the impact structure. The impact structure is considered to be a 19.5 km wide feature, this constrained in part by the outer margin of an annulus of brecciated and highly contorted limestone. New evidence is presented indicating impact into this Cambrian limestone, including: (i) 'dykes' of brecciated Cambrian limestone extending hundreds of metres into the Mesoproterozoic basement; (ii) highly contorted bedding in the limestone annulus compared with essentially undeformed limestone away from the impact site; as well as (iii) a 1 Mt megaclast of Mesoproterozoic Century-like ore suspended in the limestone. Through aerial photograph analysis, large-scale convoluted flow structures within the limestone are identified, and these are interpreted to indicate that parts of the Cambrian sequence may have been soft or only semi-consolidated at the time of impact. This highly contorted limestone bedding is suggested to represent slump-filling of an annular trough in response to impact-induced partial liquefaction of a sediment veneer. The age of impact is therefore considered to be concurrent with limestone formation during the Ordian to early Templetonian, at 520 - 510 Ma. Formation of the Century deposit is found to be unrelated to impact-generated hydrothermal activity, although some minor hydrothermal remobilisation of metals occurred. However, there was macro-scale remobilisation of gigantic ore fragments driven by impact-induced lateral and vertical injection of limestone into the Proterozoic sediments. The limestone-filled annular trough surrounds a 7.8 km diameter central uplift, consistent with formation of a complex crater morphology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-603
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Century deposit
  • Impact structure
  • Lawn Hill
  • Liquefaction

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