“The fragmentation of comets is now recognized as a major route of their disintegration, and this is consistent with the numerous sub-streams and co-moving observed in the Taurid complex.”
~ Bill Napier, 2009
In the image above, we see fragment sizes ranging from dust grains, to many substantial fragments that would be big enough to survive atmospheric entry.
The Deep Impact mission to comet TEMPEL 1 showed the head of that comet to have the consistency of a dirty snow bank. It also showed that the object is a geologically active body. Comet HOLMES is unstable, and prone to violent outbursts. Images of Comet LINEAR , and Comet Scwassmann-Wachmann 3, shown here make it abundantly clear that total, explosive, fragmentation of comets is, in fact a fairly common event.
It is clear that the impact of a cluster of fragments like that can be expected to produce planetary scarring that’s different from anything that’s been described before. Especially since the standard model of an impact event pretty much assumes a single, lone, bolide. And does not consider the likely possibility of cluster impact events. But since it is an empirical fact that such clusters of cometary fragments do exist in short period, Earth crossing, orbits, it would be naive to a fault to assume they have not left their marks in the geologically recent past.
Due to the broad range of particle, and fragment sizes, we should expect the full gamut of impact phenomena; from high altitude airburst, to geo-ablative airburst hot enough to melt, and ablate, the surface materials, to actual kinetic impact of good sized fragments that reach the ground. And all together in a fairly small area.
And in Southeast New Mexico there is an area that’s very high on my list of places I want to see for myself some day. Because I think I see planetary scarring that’s a close match for the work of something like we see in the images above, of the fragmented comets Linear, Or Scwassmann-Wachmann 3.
I will be delighted to be proven wrong. But until that happens, I’m willing to trust my eyes. And the way I see it, anywhere else in the solar system, no one would hesitate call to a 100 meter circular depression, with a raised rim, like we see at 32.404582, -103.402431 an impact crater. And it’s pretty typical in this group. It’s also typical of thousands in eastern New Mexico, and west Texas.
And just outside the main group, this 3 mile wide structure is something different that’s begging for a closer look.