The meteorite impact research group at the Department of Geology,
University of Tartu combines specialists in the field of
mineralogy-geochemistry, petrophysics and geophysics. Our main
research areas include:
(1) formation and structure of impact craters,
(2) development of impact induced hydrothermal systems and the weathering of metastable impactites, and
(3) geochemistry and environments of Early Earth.
There is recent strong evidence suggesting that aqueous alteration of Martian rocks in post-Hesperian time is possible in impact craters on Mars. This alteration is probably related to impact-induced hydrothermal activity and alteration of unstable shocked, melted and other fine-grained impact produced materials. Our research in co-operation with the group of Meteoritics and Planetary Science at University of New Mexico focuses on the Earth based analogs of such impact-induced hydrothermal systems and we are studying the mineralogy and chemistry of aqueous alteration affecting glassy products of the impact process to understand how the fine-grained ejecta and melts produced by impacts alter to form phyllosilicates. Our research is also focused on the post-impact habitability of impact induced hydrothermal systems and we are searching for fossil and chemical signs of thermophilic life in fossil impact hydrothermal systems.