Scientists confirm massive impact crater beneath Greenland's ice

Federico Mansilla
Noviembre 15, 2018

The discovery was made by an worldwide team led by researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, which said the feature was one of the 25 largest impact craters on Earth.

A massive iron meteorite smashed into Greenland as recently as 12,000 years ago, leaving a crater bigger than Paris that was recently discovered beneath the ice with sophisticated radar, researchers said Wednesday.

The crater is less than 3 million year old and was formed by a huge half-mile wide iron meteorite.

The scars of the meteorite smash have been preserved since then after being buried underneath ice more than a kilometre thick.

"Earlier studies have shown that large impacts can profoundly affect Earth's climate, with major consequences for life on Earth at the time". The discovery was made by a team of researchers led by the University of Copenhagen's Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. "It is therefore very reasonable to ask when and how and this meteorite impact at the Hiawatha Glacier affected the planet".

"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", lead author of the study Kurt Kjaer said.

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"But that means the crater must be rather young from a geological perspective".

Researchers first got a sense of the crater's location in mid-2015 thanks in part to NASA's Operation Ice Bridge, which flew over areas like the Hiawatha Glacier to track changes in polar ice.

A flight over the Hiawatha Glacier where the impact crater lies was used to map the area using ice-penetrating radar.

Chemical analysis performed at Cardiff University allowed researchers to paint a picture of the type of object capable of causing the amount of destruction by measuring the sediment from a river that drains straight through the glacier, and looked for signs of metals that would indicate it was caused by a meteorite.

"While it requires more research, we consider it possible that the Cape York irons may have been outer fragments or even boulders on the surface of the main meteorite".

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