astrobleme (ăsˈtrōblēmˌ) [key], large, circular structure ranging from c.1/2 mi to 40 mi (.8–64 km) in diameter. Astroblemes are found at numerous places on the earth's surface, e.g., Meteor, or Barringer, Crater in Arizona, Brent Crater in Ontario, and Vredefort Ring in South Africa. The presence of meteor fragments, strange conical fracture patterns (called shatter cones), and coesite (a superdense, high-pressure form of quartz) in the rocks at astroblemes suggest an impact, rather than volcanic, origin to these circular structures.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.