This week, a 10,000 ton meteor sped toward Russia in the early morning hours. Thankfully, instead of crashing, it exploded above Russia’s Ural Mountains. The sonic boom it created shattered windows, damaged the facades of buildings and sent 400+ persons scurrying to area hospitals for injuries sustained from broken glass etc..
Through cosmic coincidence, on the same day, the asteroid known as 2012 DA14 narrowly missed Earth, the closest asteroid flyby on record. But the planet has not always been so lucky..
It was a stark reminder that at any time, we are at the mercy of celestial physics and can be obliterated by a foreign body racing toward our planet. (Meteor vs. comet vs. asteroid: do you know the difference? Click HERE to learn more..) Matter of fact, it’s happened dozens of times in our planet’s history. The proof is clear – the several craters dotting the planet’s surface, some eroded over millions of years and today filled with water as lakes.. Here are our TOP 5 amazing CRATERS on Earth produced by asteroid/meteor hits..
1. Barringer Crater, Arizona, USA.
Also known as Meteor Crater, it is about 1,200 m (4,000 ft) in diameter and 170 m deep (570 ft). Scientists estimate that the crater was created about 50,000 years ago, At the time, the area was an open grassland most likely inhabited by woolly mammoths and giant ground sloths.
The name Barringer Crater was given in honor of Daniel Barringer, who was first to suggest that it was produced by meteorite impact. Oddly enough, the crater is not a national monument nor does it have federal ownership. The crater is actually privately owned by the Barringer family through their Barringer Crater Company, which proclaims it to be “best preserved meteorite crater on Earth”. However, it was designated a US National Natural Landmark in November 1967.
2. Gosses Bluff Crater, Australia.
Gosses Bluff is an astonishing landform located in the very center of Australia. Australia is a great place to observe and study impact craters as the country has collected more impacts than many other parts of the world. Because of the dry climate, the craters haven’t weathered away, nor are they hidden by dense vegetation.
The asteroid or comet that caused this crater, was probably about 1 km in diameter and crashed into the earth about 142 million years ago!!
3. Wolf Creek Crater, Australia.
Wolf Creek Crater lies in Wolf Creek Crater National Park – just on the outskirts of East Kimberly’s Great Sandy Desert in Australia. Scientists believe it was been formed by a meteorite crash over 300,000 years ago.
This rock crater is truly a sight to behold. Measuring in at just over 800m (2,625 feet) wide and 55m (180 feet) deep, Wolf Creek is one of the largest preserved craters in the world.
4. Chicxulub Crater, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.
The Chicxulub crater is a prehistoric impact crater buried underneath the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Its center is located near the town of Chicxulub, after which the crater is named. The crater is more than 180 km (110 miles) in diameter, making the feature one of the largest confirmed impact structures on Earth. The asteroid or comet that formed the crater was at least 10 km (6 miles) in diameter!
Below is a brief video zoom of the location of the Chicxulub crater.
Canada is another of Earth’s locales that have suffered numerous meteoric impacts. A map of Canada’s meteoric craters actually is riddled with dots like a chicken pox outbreak….
This satellite photo below shows the huge, almost perfect circle of Manicouagan that scientists believe resulted from the impact of a giant meteorite. The collision melted the rock and pressure created the central mound. The impact, some 200 million years ago, would likely have caused an environmental disaster! It is thought to have been caused by the impact of a 5 km (3 mi) diameter asteroid.
These photos really make us rather thankful that we were not around to live through such impacts. Our planet has certainly received more than its fair share of poundings from outer space….
Check out this NASA produced video that showed the projected path of Asterioid 2012 DA14 on February 15th, 2013.