The Tsenkher structure in the Gobi-Altai, Mongolia: Geomorphological hints of an impact origin

Goro Komatsu, John W. Olsen, Jens Ormö, Gaetano Di Achille, David A. Kring, Takafumi Matsui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The Tsenkher structure, in the Gobi-Altai region of Mongolia, was studied using a wide array of remote sensing data and field observations. The structure has a shallow, 3.6 km wide, central depression bordered by a near-circular ridge (putative crater rim) with breaches to the northwest. The central depression is obliterated partially by fluvial infill through these breaches. Outside the ridge, the western side is a rugged terrain, but the eastern half is characterized by a concentric outer ridge that occurs at about one radius distance from the inner ridge. Although intrusion, salt tectonics and maar crater hypotheses cannot be completely ruled out, its morphology strongly implies an impact origin for the Tsenkher structure. If of impact origin, it has a well-preserved morphology and its position in the basin fills indicates that the formation may have occurred relatively recently, sometime during the late Tertiary or Quaternary. The outer ridge morphology is similar to rampart craters on Mars, whose formation has been attributed to fluidization of a water-rich target layer and ejecta materials, or to atmospheric entrainment and deposition of ejected materials. However, other hypotheses including erosional remnant of ejecta blanket, erosional scarp of structural rim uplift, multi-ring or deeply eroded crater rim of a peak-ring crater are also possible at this stage. A complex fluvial and probable lacustrine history is envisaged within the Tsenkher structure. The structure is also associated with archaeology, including Paleolithic and Bronze Age remains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-180
Number of pages17
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Ejecta
  • Fluidization
  • Impact craters
  • Mongolia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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