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NASA has discovered another massive crater beneath the ice in Greenland

February 12, 2019

The meteorite impact crater is the second to have been found in the area in just a few months.

The news: The newly found crater reported yesterday in Geophysical Research Letters is thought to be more than 22 miles (45.4 kilometers) wide. It is only 114 miles (183.5 kilometers) from the Hiawatha impact crater that was discovered in 2018. The identification of that first crater led NASA to dedicate additional resources for investigating the land under Greenland’s ice. 

How it was found: NASA glaciologists used topographical maps, satellite images, and radar scans to analyze the area. What they found was a flat, bowl-shaped depression in the bedrock. This was surrounded by an elevated edge and characteristic central peaks, which form on the crater floor after an impact. The crater has eroded significantly over time, causing the team to estimate it was created somewhere between a hundred thousand years and a hundred million years ago. That suggests it probably wasn’t formed at the same time as the Hiawatha crater, which is younger.

Why it matters: This would be the third pair of craters that sit close to one another that we’ve found on Earth. “We’ve surveyed the Earth in many different ways, from land, air, and space. It’s exciting that discoveries like these are still possible,” says Joe MacGregor, a glaciologist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

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