Nature

Spectacular Impact Craters That Will Amaze and Astonish

By Robin Mei - November 13, 2016
Credits: Experts think this lake was formed after a comet hit the Earth at a speed of 90,000 kilometers an hour (55,923 miles an hour) Image: Aditya Laghate / Flickr

Pingualuit Crater, Canada

Credits: The lake formed by this meteorite impact is one of the deepest and clearest in the world. Image: Denis Sarrazin/Wikimedia

The Pingualuit Crater is located in Canada on the Ungava Peninsula of Quebec.

The crater was formed after a meteorite strike some 1.4 million years ago and is most famous for its nearly perfect round shape and the lake that lies at the bottom of it.

There are a couple of things that make this lake very unique. The first one is the purity of the water.

Many believe it’s the purest freshwater lake on Earth, but the origin of the water is also very specific. The lake of Pingualuit crater doesn’t have any inlets or outlets, meaning that the rain and snow are its only water sources.

Source: Pingualuit Crater Lake

Kaali Crater, Estonia

Credits: Kaali is the largest in a series of craters in the region that were the result of a meteorite splitting apart and striking Earth. Image: CarolsJ

Not all impact craters are millions and millions of years old. Some of them have been around for only a couple of thousand years, but that doesn’t make them any less fascinating.

On the contrary, some of those younger impact craters are the most beautiful places on Earth. Just like the Kaali Crater.

Located on the Estonian island of Saaremaa, Kaali crater is actually the biggest of a dozen other craters formed in the same region after a meteorite burst into pieces and hit the Earth.

This most massive crater is approximately 110 meters (360 feet) wide and about 21 meters  (70 feet) deep. It is filled with emerald green water which the locals believe to be magical.

Many archaeological studies indicate that this lake was a holy one, a place of sacrifice and offerings for hundreds of years.

Sources: 11 Fascinating Impact Craters on Earth,
Mysterious Kaali Crater And The Holy Lake – Sacred Ancient Places In Estonia

Tswaing Crater, Africa

Credits: The lake in the center of this crater is filled by both rain and spring water. Image: Cardamom

Less than 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the city of Pretoria lies one of the most impressive African impact craters.

This beautiful-looking crater was formed about 220,000 years ago when a rocky meteorite hit the ground leaving a 200-meter-deep (656 foot) hole which would help form the salty lake of Tswaing (‘Place of Salt’) in its center.

Thanks to its high concentration of salt, this 1.4-kilometer-wide (0.87 mile) crater served as a salt and soda ash mine for 44 years, before being closed in 1956. The factory ruins can still found near Tswaing lake.

Sources: 11 Fascinating Impact Craters on Earth, Tswaing Crater

Amguid Crater, Algeria

Credits: Amguid was first spotted by plane in 1948 but its classification was never explored or classified as a crater site until 20 years later.

The Amguid crater is, in the grand scheme of things, considered to be fairly young. It was formed less than 100,000 years ago in a distant and hardly accessible region of southwestern Algeria, deep into the Sahara Desert.

That’s probably why the Amguid crater remained a secret for a very long time.

The first official exploration of this crater took place at the end of the 1960s, but there are still many unknowns about the location.

For example, it was determined that the radius of the crater is 450 meters (1476 feet), but its total depth, under multiple layers of sand, has not been measured.

Source: Amguid Impact Crater

Lonar Crater Lake, India

Credits: Experts think this lake was formed after a comet hit the Earth at a speed of 90,000 kilometers an hour (55,923 miles an hour) Image: Aditya Laghate / Flickr

This image of the world’s most fascinating impact craters takes us to India and its state of Maharashtra, where a meteorite hit some 50,000 years ago and formed this unusual body of water known as Lonar Lake.

This saltwater lake has a very unique ecosystem thanks to its two types of water with different pH levels.

The outer part of the lake is considered the neutral region with its pH level of 7, while the central part is filled with alkaline water with a pH level of 11.

Even though these two types of water share the same lake bed, they never mix together and have absolutely different flora and fauna.

Source: 20 Interesting Lonar Crater Lake Facts

Barringer Crater, America

Credits: Arizona's Barringer crater literally landed with a great big bang. Image: mouser nerdbot / Flickr

Maybe not the biggest, but certainly the best-preserved impact crater in the world, is sometimes referred to as the Arizona crater due to its geographical location in America.

Still, its official name is the Barringer crater. The crater was named after Daniel Moreau Barringer, a Philadelphia mining engineer who spent years on research to prove his theory of the meteorite impact origin of the crater.

Thanks to Mr. Barringer’s dedicated work this crater is well documented. It measures about 1,219 meters (4,000 feet) in diameter and is 174 meters (570 feet) deep, but its rocky creator’s dimensions are even more fascinating.

It is estimated that the iron meteorite responsible for the Barringer crater was about 300,000 U.S. tons in weight and traveled at about 41,842 kilometers (26,000 miles) an hour before it crashed and exploded with the force of almost 2.5 million tons of TNT.

Sources: 11 Fascinating Impact Craters on Earth, The Barringer Crater Company

Wolfe Creek Crater, Australia

Credits: The Western world has only known about the Wolfe Creek crater for 80 years, although Aboriginal tribes knew it was there for thousands of years before that. Image: Stephan Ridgway

The Wolfe Creek crater, the world’s second largest meteorite crater, is located in Western Australia.

It was created about 300,000 years ago when a huge meteorite crashed there leaving this 875-meter-wide (2870 feet) and almost 123-meter-deep (400 foot) hole on the face of Earth.

The current depth of the Wolfe Creek crater is less than half of when it made impact, due to layers and layer of sand covering the bottom of the crater.

The Wolfe Creek crater was officially identified in 1947, but it turns out that Aboriginal peoples potentially knew of existence for thousands of years.

They also have a quite different theory of how the crater was formed, believing it was a giant mythological snake who made this round hole at the dawn of time.

Sources: 11 Fascinating Impact Craters on Earth, Wolfe Creek Crater National Park

Tenoumer Crater, Africa

Credits: Is this an impact site or the side effect of volcanic activity? Image: SaharaMet and R. Pelisson

The Tenoumer crater is another incredible formation located in Africa. It lies deep in the Sahara Desert, in the northern part of Mauritania after it was formed at least 10,000 years ago.

Two key features make the Tenoumer crater so interesting. The first one is its shape.

The crater is almost a perfect circle with a 1.9 kilometer (1.2 mile) radius, which is quite rare and leads to the next exciting point – the origin of this crater.

There’s been a long and comprehensive debate on what caused the crater. A group of scientists thought that it emerged as a result of volcanic activities which took place thousands and thousands of years ago.

This theory is mostly based on the discovery of hardened “lava” in this crater, but some of the more recent geological research shows that the “lava” was actually made of rocks which melted after a meteorite impact.

Source: Tenoumer Crater, Mauritania

Monturaqui Crater, Chile

Credits: For an impact crater, Monturaqui is relatively shallow.

The landscape of the Monturaqui crater looks more like something you might expect to see on Mars rather than Earth.

It is located in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on our planet with a very harsh climate. That’s probably why this place is often compared with the ‘Red Planet.’

Moreover, many scientists associate the Monturaqui crater with one found of Mars, known as the Bonneville crater, as they share similar size and morphology.

The size of this million-year-old crater is approximately 460 meters (1,509 feet) in diameter and only 46 meters (100 feet) in depth, but thanks to the extreme weather conditions of this area the Monturaqui crater is still very much visible and extremely intriguing.

Source: 11 Fascinating Impact Craters on Earth

Gosses Bluff Crater, Australia

Credits: Gross Bluff plays an important role in the beliefs of some of Australia's indigenous peoples. Image: Robert Link / Flickr

A visually impressive, as well as a sacred site formed after the crash of a meteorite, is known as the Gosses Bluff crater.

Located in the Northern Territory of Australia, between the Macdonnell Range to the north and the James Range to the south, this crater is one of the best-studied craters in Australia.

At the same time, this place has a great religious and cultural importance to Australia’s ingenious peoples. They call it Tnorala and believe it has magical powers.

Gosses Bluff crater is about 142 million years old. Its current size is about 6.4 kilometers (4 miles) in diameter, but it is thought that the crater was much larger immediately after the impact, even up to 22.5 kilometers (14 miles) in diameter.

Sources: 11 Fascinating Impact Craters on Earth, Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) Conservation Reserve