Pictures, video Scientists believe they may have found a second meteorite impact crater lurking under ice sheets on Greenland.
The researchers say they made a 36.5 km (36.5 km) wide hole, which was caused by an ancient space rock struck in our homeworld. The exact historical timing of the Cosmic Prang is not clear, though it appears that ice eroded the crater between 100,000 and 100 million years ago. Interestingly, the two-kilometer-thick ice sheets that cover it now are at least 79,000 years old.
Here's a NASA video detailing the planetary pothole:
Evidence for the epic pit was obtained from eleven datasets compiled from various sources, including radar and satellite images of Earth's poles and Greenland ice sheets. All in all, it reveals alluring features of a impact crater.
The flat, basin-like structure implanted in the rock has a circular rim with irregular peaks in the center. "We've studied Earth in a variety of ways, both on land, in the air and from space, and it's exciting that discoveries like these are still possible," said Joe MacGregor, a NASA glaciologist and co-author the study published on Monday in Geophysical Research Letters.
MacGregor was also part of the team that found the first impact crater buried under Greenland ice sheets last November. The scientists called him the Hiawatha impact crater. He is about 30 kilometers wide. The new candidate crater was discovered only 183 kilometers from the earlier discovery. Yes, these are two meteorite craters that are close together under the Greenland ice sheets – lightning may not hit the same spot twice, but space rocks can do so.
The faint outline of the 19-mile Hiawatha impact crater and the new 22.7-mile-wide candidate marked my four pink arrows to the right. Picture credits: MacGregor et al.
"I started to wonder," Is that another impact crater? Do the underlying data support this idea? MacGregor said, "It was exciting to identify a large impact crater under the ice, but now it looks like there might be two."
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Although the holes are close together, they were probably not formed simultaneously because the icy deposits above the Hiawatha impact crater are younger. Proximity to both craters is likely due to two different impact events occurring accidentally nearby.
If the new discovery is verified as a crater, this is the 22nd largest ever found. The largest crater, Vredefort Crater, spans 190 miles in South Africa and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
MacGregor thinks the researchers might even find a third crater: "The existence of a third pair of unrelated craters is a bit surprising, but we do not think it's unlikely." By and large, the evidence gathered suggests that this new structure very important is probably an impact crater, but at present it seems unlikely that he is a twin with Hiawatha. "®