In this paper, a detailed mineralogical study on iron-rich spherules in Taihu Lake was carried out, and we present a proposed impact-related origin for these iron-rich spherules. The iron-rich spherical concretions in Taihu Lake occur in a specific silty layer formed around ~7 ka B.P., sandwiched between an upper lacustrine deposit layer and a lower hard loess layer, and they are widely distributed and are the most abundant iron-rich concretions in that specific layer in the vicinity of Taihu Lake. The spherules are typically ~0.5 to 3 mm in diameter with a shape very similar to a spherical shape but not exactly rounded and have various apparent aerodynamic shapes, such as spherical, cone, spindle, ellipsoidal, elongated and pear-shaped morphologies. SEM imaging shows that there is no central core and no concentric layers in the spherules. Iron-rich spherical concretions are similar to accretionary lapilli and have a typical colloidal structure with abundant angular quartz grains and trace fragments of clays wrapped in fine cements that are mainly goethite with minor clays and carbon particles. The typical nodule-forming mechanism in aqueous sediments does not sufficiently explain the morphology and internal features of the iron-rich spherules of Taihu Lake, whereas the aerosol formation mechanism under the airburst impact origin hypothesis of the Taihu Lake basin may be a better explanation of the unique mineralogy of the spherules. Specifically, airburst impact plumes could be the reaction chambers of the aerosol to form the accretionary lapilli with a colloidal texture for the interior, while a dense shell and semi-plastic morphological features can form in the falling processes from higher altitudes in the plume.
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