Large meteorite impact crater found beneath Greenland ice sheet

Christopher Davidson
November 18, 2018

An worldwide team led by researchers from the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, discovered a 31-kilometre wide meteorite impact crater buried beneath the ice-sheet in Greenland's Hiawatha Glacier.

About it reports a press-service NASA. With a 31 kilometer diameter it is among 25 biggest impact craters on Earth.

Scientists came to the conclusion that it was formed in the fall of an iron meteorite.

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A very curious feature has always been visible in satellite images of Greenland's massive ice sheet, but until now, no one really knew for sure what formed it. The strike is thought to have happened less than three million years ago, and the meteorite was over half a mile wide, according to the researchers. Their finding is published in the November 14 issue of the journal Science Advances.

"The crater is exceptionally well-preserved, and that is surprising because glacier ice is an incredibly efficient erosive agent that would have quickly removed traces of the impact", said Professor Kurt H Kjaer from the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

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In the study area, the experts used data collected by NASA in the period from 1997 to 2016, as well as the results obtained in the study area using radar techniques and geochemical analysis of the soil, which were characteristic of meteoric craters abundant minerals.

The researchers also say that it was the first time an impact crater of any size had been discovered buried under a continental ice sheet.

The team, which was led by scientists from Denmark's Natural History Museum, as well as the University of Copenhagen, was curious about a odd circular feature on the edge of Greenland's ice sheet.

Using NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, they examined the surface of the ice in the Hiawatha Glacier region and quickly found evidence of a circular pattern on the ice surface that matched the one observed in the bed topography map.

"Previous radar measurements of Hiawatha Glacier were part of a long-term NASA effort to map Greenland's changing ice cover", Joe MacGregor, a glaciologist with NASA, explains. "What we really needed to test our hypothesis was a dense and focused radar survey there". In the map, researchers identified a circular depression under the Hiawatha Glacier and suspected that it could be an impact crater.

The team now plans to investigate the impact of meteorite event on the planet as a whole.

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