Huge Crater Found Under Greenland Ice

Posted: Nov 18 2018, 3:22am CST | by , Updated: Nov 18 2018, 3:23am CST, in Latest Science News


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Huge Crater Found Under Greenland Ice
Credit: Natural History Museum of Denmark

This is the first time that a crater of any size has been found under an ice sheet on Earth.

An almost two-decade long survey of Greenland has led to the discovery of an enormous crater buried beneath the ice. The crater is about 31 kilometers wide and 300 meters deep. It was likely caused by an asteroid that smashed into the Earth around 12,000 years ago.

The newfound crater is massive and covers an area bigger than Paris. It is the first crater to be found under any of Earth’s ice sheets. For centuries, the crater remained hidden under thick ice. It was not until very recently that a radar system exposed it and allowed researchers to learn more about the astonishing feature.

"We've collected lots of radar-sounding data over the last couple of decades, and glaciologists put these radar-sounding datasets together to produce maps of what Greenland is like underneath the ice," said co-author John Paden from University of Kansas.

“Danish researchers were looking at the map and saw this big, craterlike depression under the ice sheet and looked at satellite imagery and – because the crater is on edge of the ice sheet – you can see a circular pattern there as well. The two combined made a really strong case for this being an impact-crater site. Based on this discovery, a detailed radar survey was conducted in May 2016 using a new state-of-the-art radar designed and built by KU for the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany."

To confirm the satellite and radar findings, researchers turned to ground-based studies and analyzed the sediments on the site. Some of the grains found in the area were indicative of a violent impact.

The asteroid impact was huge but its exact timing is uncertain. Researchers believe that the crater is geologically young. Its condition strongly suggests that it formed as recently as 12,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

Professor Kurt H. Kjær from the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark says. "We immediately knew this was something special but at the same time it became clear that it would be difficult to confirm the origin of the depression."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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