NATURAL EVENTS

The six largest meteoritic craters in the world

A meteorite crater (also called astroblem, impact crater or basin) is a circular-shaped depression formed by the impact of a meteorite, asteroid, and in general a celestial body, on the surface of a planet.

Evidence of many of these craters, which have impacted our planet over geological eras, can be found on planet Earth. One of the most famous, for example, is the one believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs (called the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction).

Some of these craters can be found underground today, or at least the traces they left behind. Others have become beautiful lakes, others are still desolate and remote places today. But which are the largest in the world by diameter?

Getty Images/Wikipedia.org
What are the largest meteoritic craters in the world?
A meteorite crater (also called astroblem, impact crater or basin) is a circular-shaped depression formed by the impact of a meteorite, asteroid, and in general a celestial body, on the surface of a planet. Evidence of many of these craters, which have impacted our planet over geological eras, can be found on planet Earth. One of the most famous, for example, is the one believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs (called the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction). Some of these craters can be found underground today, or at least the traces they left behind. Others have become beautiful lakes, others are still desolate and remote places today. But which are the largest in the world by diameter?
Di Júlio Reis (User:Tintazul) - [1], Pubblico dominio, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?cu
1 - Vredefort Crater (South Africa: 27°0′S 27°30′E)
Vredefort Crater is the largest meteorite crater on the surface of planet Earth, with a diameter of about 300 km and is located in the South African province of North West. The meteorite that struck this part of South Africa is thought to have been between 10 and 15 km in diameter. This crater is not only the largest, but also the oldest, dating back some 2 billion years. This photo was officially released by NASA.
Getty Images
2 - Chicxulub Crater (Mexico: 21°20′N 89°30′W)
This relief image of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula shows a subtle but unmistakable indication of the Chicxulub impact crater. Most scientists now agree that this impact was the cause of the Cretan-Tertiary extinction, the event that around 66 million years ago marked the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs and most life then present on Earth. The photo was released by NASA together with JPL.
By User:Vesta - Created with NASA WorldWind by User:Vesta using Landsat 7 (Visible Color) satellite
3 - Sudbury Crater (Canada: 46°36′N 81°11′W)
Although the diameter of this crater currently measures 'only' 130 km, scientists speculate that it originally measured over 260 km in diameter. It is one of the oldest craters in the world, dating back more than 1.8 billion years. In 2014, scientists determined that it was the impact of a comet that formed the crater. This photo was taken by NASA's World Wind satellite.
Pubblico dominio, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=172915
4 - Popigai Crater (Russia: 71°39′N 111°11′E)
This crater is very interesting because, first of all, it is the fourth largest in the world (100 km in diameter), but especially because the impact of the asteroid that created it also gave rise to some diamonds. In fact, the enormous temperature and pressure allowed the graphite, present in large quantities in that area of Siberia, to turn into diamonds. Even today, these diamonds still exist, are very small and are used for industrial purposes.
Di NASA - NASA Earth Observatory, Pubblico dominio, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=
5 - Manicouagan Crater (Canada: 51°23′N 68°42′W)
A meteorite about 5 km in diameter that fell 214 million years ago on our planet is the cause of the formation of Lake Manicouagan, a ring-shaped lake located in the central regions of the Canadian province of Quebec with a surface area of 1942 km². Scientists from the University of Chicago and the University of New Brunswick have hypothesised that Manicouagan was part of a multiple impact, which also formed the Rochechouart crater in France, the Saint Martin crater in Manitoba, the Obolon crater in Ukraine and the Red Wing crater in North Dakota (USA).
Par NASA — Screen capture from NASA World Wind, Domaine public, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/in
6 - Acraman Crater (Australia: 32°1′S 135°27′E)
NASA's World Wind satellite gives us this beautiful image of the South Australian crater, formed 580 million years ago and 90 kilometres in diameter. It was only identified in 1986, due to the presence of shocked quartz and shattered cones on the islands of the lake.
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