Original size of the Vredefort Structure: Implications for the geological evolution of the Witwatersrand Basin
Historically, there have been a range of diameter estimates for the large, deeply eroded Vredefort impact structure within the Witwatersrand Basin, South Africa. Here, we estimate the diameter of the transient cavity at the present level of erosion as ~124-140 km, based on the spatial distribution of shock metamorphic features in the floor of the structure and downfaulted Transvaal outliers. Taking erosion into account (^3 6 km) and scaling to original final rim diameter, an estimate of ~\300 km for the rim diameter is obtained. Independent estimates of the final rim diameter, based on an empirical relation of central uplift diameter to rim diameter, spatial distribution of pseudotachylites, and concentric large scale structural patterns, give a similar estimate of ~\300 km for the original final rim diameter. An impact structure of this size is expected to have had an original multi-ring form. At this size, the Vredefort impact structure encompasses the bulk of the Witwatersrand Basin, which appears to owe its preservation to the Vredefort impact. In addition, the Vredefort impact event may have been the thermal driver for some of the widespread hydrothermal activity in the area, which, in recent interpretations, is believed to be a component in the creation of the world-class gold deposits of the Witwatersrand Basin.