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Department of Earth Sciences


Impact Cratering is an important planetary and geological process, affecting the surface of almost all planets and satellites in the solar system. Studying impact cratering is challenging because the Earth's impact record has been severely affected by other geological processes and impact structures on other planets can only realistically be studied by remote sensing techniques. Furthermore, all of the processes in an impact cratering event cannot be simultaneously reproduced by experiments in the laboratory. Numerical impact simulations provide a way to investigate the dynamics of impact cratering at scales unachievable in the laboratory, however, numerical impact simulations rely upon a good understanding of the physical processes during cratering and upon comparison with observational and experimental results.

My work combines observational and experimental methods with numerical modelling to understand the highly dynamic processes associated with impacts. More specifically, in recent years, my research has focussed on dynamic rock failure, complex crater formation, and shock metamorphism.


2019-Present: Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College, University of Cambridge

2019-2021: Post-doctoral Research Associate in the Institute of Geology at the University of Freiburg

2018: Post-doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial College London

2014-2018: PhD in the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial College London

2010-2014: BA and MSci in Natural Sciences (Earth Sciences) at the University of Cambridge


Key publications: 

Padmanabha et al. (2022) Dynamic Split Tensile Strength of Basalt, Granite, Marble and Sandstone: Strain rate dependency and Fragmentation. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering10.1007/s00603-022-03075-4 (Preprint accesible on ArXiv: 2110.10072).

Itcovitz et al. (2022) Reduced atmospheres of post-impact worlds: The early Earth. The Planetary Science Journal, 3:5, 10.3847/PSJ/ac67a9 (Preprint accesible on ArXiv: 2204.09946).

Walton et al. (2022) Ancient and recent collisions revealed by phosphate minerals in the Chelyabinsk meteorite. Communications Earth & Environment, 3: 40, 10.1038/s43247-022-00373-1.

Kenkmann et al. (2022) Secondary cratering on Earth: The Wyoming impact crater field. GSA Bulletin, 10.1130/B36196.1.

Rae et al. (2022) Dynamic Compressive Strength and Fragmentation in Sedimentary and Metamorphic Rocks. Tectonophysics, 824: 229221, 10.1016/j.tecto.2022.229221. (Pre-print accesible on EarthArXiv: 10.31223/X5RD0C)

McCall et al. (2021) Orientations of planar cataclasite zones in the Chicxulub peak ring as a ground truth for peak ring formation models. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 576: 117236, 10.1016/j.epsl.2021.117236.

Wittmann et al. (2021) Shock impedance amplified impact deformation of zircon in granitic rocks from the Chicxulub impact crater. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 575: 117201, 10.1016/j.epsl.2021.117201.

Ebert et al. (2021) Comparison of stress orientation indicators in Chicxulub’s peak ring: Kinked biotites, basal PDFs, and feather features. in: Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary Evolution VI, GSA Special Paper 550: 479, 10.1130/2021.2550(21).

Rae et al. (2021) Stress and Strain during Shock Metamorphism. Icarus 370, 114687, 10.1016/j.icarus.2021.114687. (Post-print accesible on EarthArXiv: 10.31223/X5HC8W)

Nichols et al. (2021) The palaeoinclination of the ancient lunar magnetic field from an Apollo 17 basalt. Nature Astronomy, 10.1038/s41550-021-01469-y.

Rae et al. (2020) Dynamic Compressive Strength and Fragmentation in Felsic Crystalline Rocks. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, e2020JE006561. 10.1029/2020JE006561.

Kring et al. (2020) Probing the hydrothermal system of the Chicxulub impact crater. Science Advances 6(22), eaaz3053. 10.1126/sciadv.aaz3053.

Collins et al. (2020) A steeply-inclined trajectory for the Chicxulub impact. Nature Communications 11(1). 1-10. 10.1038/s41467-020-15269-x.

Timms et al. (2020) Shocked titanite records Chicxulub hydrothermal alteration and impact age. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 281, 12-30. 10.1016/j.gca.2020.04.031.

Agarwal et al. (2019). Impact experiment on gneiss: The effects of foliation on cratering process. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 124 (12), 13532-13546. 10.1029/2019JB018345.

Gulick et al. (2019) The first day of the Cenozoic. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116 (39), 19342-19351. 10.1073/pnas.1909479116.

Rae et al. (2019) Impact‐induced porosity and microfracturing at the Chicxulub impact structure. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 124.7, 1960-1978. 10.1029/2019JE005929.

Timms et al. (2019) New shock microstructures in titanite (CaTiSiO5) from the peak ring of the Chicxulub impact structure, Mexico. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 174(5), 38. 10.1007/s00410-019-1565-7.

Rae et al. (2019) Stress‐Strain Evolution during Peak‐Ring Formation: A Case Study of the Chicxulub Impact Structure. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 124.2, 396-417. 10.1029/2018JE005821.

Riller et al. (2018) Rock fluidization during peak-ring formation of large impact structures. Nature, 562(7728), 511. 10.1038/s41586-018-0607-z.

Christeson et al. (2018) Extraordinary rocks from the peak ring of the Chicxulub impact crater: P-wave velocity, density, and porosity measurements from IODP/ICDP Expedition 364. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 495, 1-11. 10.1016/j.epsl.2018.05.013.

Lowery et al. (2018) Rapid recovery of life at ground zero of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. Nature, 558(7709). 288.10.1038/s41586-018-0163-6.

Holm-Alwmark et al. (2017) Combining shock barometry with numerical modeling: Insights into complex crater formation—The example of the Siljan impact structure (Sweden). Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 52(12), 2521-2549. 10.1111/maps.12955.

Rae et al. (2017) Complex crater formation: Insights from combining observations of shock pressure distribution with numerical models at the West Clearwater Lake impact structure. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 52(7), 1330-1350. 10.1111/maps.12825.

Morgan et al. (2016) The formation of peak rings in large impact craters. Science, 354(6314), 878-882. 10.1126/science.aah6561.

Rae et al. (2016) Time scales of magma transport and mixing at Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai’i. Geology, 44(6), 463-466. 10.1130/G37800.1.

Other Professional Activities

My research has appeared in:

IFL Science - May 2020

Eos - April 2018

Vice News - June 2016

Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College
Dr Auriol  Rae

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