11 Fascinating Impact Craters on Earth

Martina Rosado
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Roter Kamm Crater

In Uganda, Africa.

Roter Kamm Crater is a crater in the Otokarijeska¡‪an Desert. It is the largest known impact feature in the Nile River Basin. It is 1.6 miles wide and 350 feet deep.

The crater was formed 11,000 years ago when part of a comet or asteroid that measured four miles in diameter exploded over 45 miles above the earth. The shock wave from the impact was felt as far away as the Red Sea.

Roter Kamm is located in Northern Uganda. The crater formed between the Great Rift Valley and the Kyadondo Plateau. Its age was determined by radioactive dating of the impactrained rock.

According to the dating, the time the crater was formed was around 11,000 years ago.

During the Holocene period (approximately 10,000 ‬ 8,000 years ago), the Nile River valley was dry. The Holocene Epoch, beginning about 11,000 years ago, is the beginning of this dry spell. During this time, the earth’s climate had begun to warm after multiple ice ages.

Although scientific consensus has the comet or asteroid that formed the crater as the cause of this climatic change, the exact mechanism is not understood.

Kaali Crater

The Kaali Crater is located on the Indian Ocean near Madagascar, Africa. The area around Kaali Crater is considered one of the hot spots in the subduction of the Indian Plate as it slides beneath the Africa Plate to the south. A ridge of the India Plate is slowly being forced down into the mantle by the Marrakesh plume, which is moving in from the south west. The driving force is the transfer of heat from the upper crust and mantle to the lower crust. The plume pushes the India plate into the mantle causing the hot material to undergo melting. The hot, molten rocks rise through the mantle as magma, causing upwelling in the mantle at this location.

The Kaali Crater formed as a result of the India-Asia collision in the Cretaceous Period 2 million years ago. The collision forced the mass of material descending into the mantle to under go melting in the mantle wedge above the subduction zone. As a result of the melting, the magma which is formed rose to shallow levels, causing a hill or mound to form on the seafloor.

Tenoumer Crater

Found in Sudan in the northern part of Africa, this crater is surrounded by Lake Tenoumer. This is an archeological site where you can find the remains of a town, along with fauna and fauna. Experts believe that it may be between 12,000 and 13,000 years old.

It is estimated that Tenoumer Crater was formed by a meteorite impact about 11,000 years ago, which is coincidentally currently the accepted age of the ancient lake itself. The crater is about 15.5 miles (25 km) in diameter.

One of the interesting things about the site is the lack of any large stones that are believed to be from the impact. Instead, it is composed of smaller rocks, making it difficult to date.

The oldest form of the local population was derived from the Nubian people, who settled in the area around 4,000-9,000 BC. The modern human population is not considered living remnants of the Nubians. The area around the crater is home to established cattle breeders and their herds.

Lonar Crater Lake

Monturaqui Crater

Argentina.

This impact crater's rim rises almost 700m above its surrounding plain, making it the tallest single feature in the Sahara.

Massive Meteor Impacts

Despite its tiny size, this crater's central peak is 1300m above sea level.

The crater's steep walls slope nearly vertically for 1000m (3,280ft) to the crater's edge, ending in a 70m (230ft) drop at the crater rim.

Monturaqui was created in 2003 when an asteroid estimated at 50-120m (164-394ft) across slammed into the soil with a velocity of 3,300km/h (2,064 mph).

Impact Crater Forms

The impact of the asteroid caused the ground to be pushed upward as the shock pulse of energy vaporized the surrounding rock into a cloud of fine dust.

The force of the blast created a micro-scale tsunami that traveled as deep as 4km (6,566ft).

The impact blasted a deep crater measuring 2km (2,521ft) across, exposing the rock core that makes up the center of the crater.

Monturaqui's Central Peak

2750m (9,054ft) above sea level, the central peak rises at an angle of 28 degrees.

Its lower rim is 472m (1,550ft) above the bottom of the crater.

Gosses Bluff Crater

Tswaing Crater

South Africa.

You’ll often hear of the saying or ideal that ‘the grass is always greener’. If you’ve ever felt that way as a gardener, and especially if you have ever visited the botanical gardens, you’ve probably seen tall and healthy looking grass compared to the patchy clay soil and dry, cracked earth outside of the greenhouses.

Tswaing Crater in South Africa tells a different story, illustrating the massive force that nature can do, especially when it's a volcanic eruption. In the end, nature can do better than any gardener could.

The weight and force of a volcano can even shape the planet’s surface. Plate tectonics is the scientific theory that the earth’s surface is made up of many plates, each of them moving at a different pace of motion in relation to the other. Profound crustal movements are caused by different plate motions and can cause volcanoes and mountains to form.

In a study in 2012, scientists discovered that a hotspot beneath the surface of the earth has caused the surface of the earth in a large section of South Africa to sink vertically upwards more than 60 meters, creating the Tswaing Crater.

Pingualuit Crater

The Pingualuit crater, also known as Ries Crater, is located on the Arctic Archipelago, one of Canada’s northernmost islands. It’s formed by an impact event that occurred 5.3 to 5.4 billion years ago, although there are different estimates for the age. It’s estimated to have a diameter of around 3.2 kilometers (2 KM).

Pingualuit Crater

The Pingualuit crater is an impact crater on the northern Canadian Arctic archipelago that is estimated to have formed 5.3 to 5.4 billion years ago. The crater is so large, it is often referred to as the Pingualuit Impact Structure (PIS).

There are multiple theories about what caused the Pingualuit Crater and any evidence of this great impact is difficult to find in the crater’s interior. Based on these theories, the Pingualuit Crater was likely caused by the impact of a comet or asteroid measuring between 10 and 50 kilometers in diameter.

The crater was visited in 2005 by an expedition led by University of British Columbia. The expedition included geologists from universities all over Canada and the United States. They conducted geological analysis and collected water, ice samples, and soil samples.

Amguid Crater

The Amguid crater is located in the southern region of the Arabian Peninsula, it is about 2,000 miles away from its closest neighbors. It first appeared as a fissure in 1988 but only got confirmed as a crater by 1997.

The Amguid Crater is said to have been formed about 14,000 years ago when an asteroid about 160 feet in diameter slammed into the Arabian Peninsula. It appears that the asteroid didn’t cause a disaster in the area (and may have landed while Earth was busy with other things), at least not right away.

About 14,000 years ago, the land on the Arabian Peninsula was submerged by about 6° water, so whatever damage the asteroid did was deliberately mitigated by the Earth’s way of biostabilizing. When that area returned to sea level, leaving the old crater dry, storms and floods from the Arabian Gulf and the Tigris-Euphrates river swelled the crater’s walls to about 1,470 feet.

After the Earth’s sea level stabilized, the Amguid Crater disappeared underwater. Today, the crater remains in the same state it was in 14,000 years ago, with the sea level at about 6° and no man-made excavation, so the crater is still buried in the Arabian Peninsula.

Wolfe Creek Crater

Pennsylvania, USA.

The famous Wolfe Creek Impact Crater is a 9,000 kg (20,000 lb) chunk of rock with a diameter of only four meters. The impact happened 68 million years ago, and it is filled with an acidic liquid called Tanisite.

The crater is located in a remote area near the cliffs of Pennsylvania’s Panthertown Valley, the source of the water for the nearby Connoquenessing Reservoir. The water quality is excellent.

The crater is monitored by the Pennsylvania Geological Survey, and it is a popular tourist attraction.

When the explosion released the energy of a 20 kiloton nuclear device, it caused a 6 meter (20 ft) shallow crater and later an 8 meter (26 ft) deep crater. The tanisite deposit contains uranium and thorium, but the radioactive components are so low that the surrounding areas remain safe.

The crater is shallow enough to be viewed by the public and for cross-country skiing in the winter.

Directly above the crater is the spectacular 5,464 foot (1,653 m) tall Wall Mountain with the 25,000 foot (7,620 m) tall Snowball Mountain directly behind it to the left.

Barringer Crater

Arizona, USA.

Quite close to the Guatemalan border is a crater that has attracted the attention of many adventurers due to its size.

At the time of its discovery, Baringer Crater was named Crater 2 and was given the code GBT4. It was later renamed in honor of Harold L. Baringer, an official of the former United States X-ray Astronomy Observatory.

Today, it is credited with being the oldest impact crater on Earth that is still visible. This is because it is geologically young enough to retain its initial surface features.

The age of this crater, dating to the Cretaceous Period, was determined using radiometric dating of a meteorite fragment found in the crater. These calculations yielded an age of 127 million years, placing it at roughly the same time as the Chicxulub Crater.

The fact that such a young crater could still be present on Earth is further supported by the presence of geological evidence. This evidence includes kimberlite pipes, which are evidence of volcanic activity within the crater at its origin.

Because of this, it is possible that the crater was once a volcano before its final, enormous impact that caused it to form.