Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration

Impact Cratering Short Course and Field School (PLANETSC 9604)

Onaping Falls

Members of the 2012 Field School at Onaping Falls.

Impact Cratering Short Course and Field School

This course is offered in collaboration with the Center for Lunar Science and Exploration, Lunar and Planetary Institute.

Dates: September 23 - 30, 2017

Location: Sudbury, Ontario

Contact: Dr. Gordon Osinski (gosinski@uwo.ca)


Planetary Science and/or Planetary Surface Processes course at the graduate level. For Western students, one of PLANETSC 9603, 9605 or ASTRO 9601 is required. Contact the course instructor for questions about the suitability of a course.


Please click here to register.

There are only limited spaces available on this course. Priority will be given to students enrolled in the Collaborative Graduate Program in Planetary Science and Exploration


Western student enrolled in the Collaborative Graduate Program in Planetary Science and Exploration: $750.00

Western student in another program: $1,200.00

Non-Western student: $1,600.00


For Western students, travel to Sudbury will be by vehicle, leaving early morning on the 23rd and returning late on the 30th.

For non-Western students, you should plan to be in Sudbury for the evening of the 23rd. There will be a meet-and-greet event at 7:00 PM that evening (location TBD), so please plan your travel accordingly. The field school will finish 3:00 PM on the 30th, so you have the option to leave that afternoon/evening. You are welcome to stay an additional night(s) in Sudbury, but you will need to arrange your own accommodation.

Course Objectives:

The principle objective of this course is to introduce students and researchers to impact cratering as a fundamental geological process.

Course Description:

Impact cratering is one of the most fundamental, yet poorly understood, geological processes in the Solar System. On many planets, impact craters are the dominant geological landform. On Earth, erosion, plate tectonics and volcanic resurfacing continually destroy the impact cratering record, but even here, the geological, biological, and environmental effects of impact cratering are apparent. Impact events are destructive and have been linked to at least one of the "big five" mass extinctions over the past 540 Ma. In recent years, it has also become apparent that impact craters can also have beneficial effects: many impact craters are associated with economic metalliferous ore deposits and hydrocarbon reservoirs. Impact events can also create new biological niches, which can provide favourable conditions for the survival and evolution of life and potentially on other planets such as Mars.

This is an intensive 5-day short course and field training program on impact cratering. This course will introduce students to the processes and products of impact cratering on Earth and throughout the Solar System. This course will be based in Sudbury, Ontario, the site of an ~200 km diameter impact structure formed 1.85 billion years ago. Each day will feature 3 hours of lecture material in the morning, followed by field excursions and/or hands on laboratory sessions in the afternoons. The Sudbury structure offers an exceptional opportunity to study impact melt rocks, various types of impact breccias, shatter cones, impact-induced hydrothermal alteration, and much more.


Course Evaluation:

The one-week course (PLANETSC 9604) is a 0.5 FCW credit. Students registered in the course will be evaluated as follows:

Course Participation = 15%                            
Sudbury Field Research Project = 35%
Research Paper = 50%       

Class Participation
Attendance is required at all classes, unless special extenuating circumstances apply. Each student is expected to actively contribute to all class discussions. Students are encouraged to read widely beyond the readings specifically assigned for class and bring own readings and experiences into the class discussions. It is expected that each student will come prepared to debate, defend and critique the readings and the presentations.

Sudbury Field Research Project
A research project will be carried out in the field at the Sudbury Impact Structure. Further details will be announced during the course.

Research Paper
Each student will prepare a research paper. Students will have the choice or writing a review-type paper on a particular subject, or a research-based paper in the form of an extended conference abstract, which will be based on results and data gathered by the student during a small research project that will last for the duration of the semester following the short course. For both papers, students are encouraged to consult the professor regarding the choice of the topic.
These papers will be due at 5PM on Friday, December 1, 2017.

Review papers should not exceed 20 pages (double spaced) and must include at title page, an abstract (maximum 200 words), figures and tables (where appropriate) and a reference list.

The research-based paper will involve students taking on a small research project on a particular topic. Students will have the opportunity to investigate various sites of uncharacterized samples from several terrestrial impact structures. Students will have access to polished thin sections and hand specimens and basic optical microscopy facilities. Students are welcome to propose collecting geological data on their samples; however, this will depend on the availability of funds and instrumentation at the time of proposing and must be discussed with the professor in advance. Other types of research projects - for example, application of computer modeling to cratering studies, or remote sensing studies of impact craters on Earth or another planetary body - are also permitted and are welcome. Students will prepare an LPSC-type extended abstract using a standard template available from the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Supplementary figures and text (not exceeding 5 pages) must be supplied detailing methodology, etc. All "raw" data collected (e.g., an MS Excel spreadsheet with detailed sample descriptions and analyses).

Academic Honesty Statements and Absences:

Assignments: Assignments must be submitted both by hardcopy and electronically on the assigned due date and will not be accepted late, except under medical or other compassionate circumstances (see below). Submitting a late assignment without appropriate documentation will result in a zero (0) grade. 

Accessibility: Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 661-2111 x 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.

Absences/Missed Exams/Assignments: If you are unable to meet a course requirement due to illness or other serious circumstances, you must provide valid medical or other supporting documentation to the Dean's office as soon as possible and contact your instructor immediately. It is the student's responsibility to make alternative arrangements with their instructor once the accommodation has been approved and the instructor has been informed. In the event of a missed final exam, a "Recommendation of Special Examination" form must be obtained from the Dean's Office immediately.

For further information please see: http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/handbook/appeals/medical.pdf

A student requiring academic accommodation due to illness should use the Student Medical Certificate when visiting an off-campus medical facility or request a Records Release Form (located in the Dean's Office) for visits to Student Health Services. The form can be found here: https://studentservices.uwo.ca/secure/medical_document.pdf

Academic misconduct: Academic Scholastic offences are taken seriously and students are directed to read the appropriate policy, specifically, the definition of what constitutes a Scholastic Offence, at the following Web site: http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/handbook/appeals/scholoff.pdf

All required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to the commercial plagiarism detection software under license to the University for the detection of plagiarism. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between The University of Western Ontario and Turnitin.com (http://www.turnitin.com). Computer-marked multiple-choice tests and/or exams may be subject to submission for similarity review by software that will check for unusual coincidences in answer patterns that may indicate cheating.