Meteorites are rocky objects from space, that, when crossing with the Earth or any other planet, impact against them, releasing in the process huge amounts of energy.
The larger a meteorite is, the larger will be the crater it will leave upon impact. In this post, we will see the largest craters of our planet formed by the impact of a meteorite.
1 – Vredefort crater
The Vredefort crater is the largest crater due to a meteorite impact on our planet. Its diameter is about 300 kilometres, and its lowest point is found at a depth of 40 kilometres. Being the largest crater on Earth, it is also one of the most ancient, as it was formed about 2 billion years ago.
This crater is found in South Africa, where it caused massive destruction at the moment of impact. The name of the crater comes from Vredefort city, which is situated near the centre of the crater.
2 – Chicxulub crater
This crater of 200 kilometres in diameter is the second largest on Earth. It is found in the Yucatán peninsula (Mexico) and it was formed about 66 million years ago, due to the impact of a meteorite 10 kilometres in diameter at a speed of 1,000 kilometres per hour.
There is important evidence that shows that the impact of this big meteorite was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, destroying 1,500 square kilometres of land, and establishing on Earth similar conditions to the ones of a nuclear winter.
The Chicxulub crater was discovered by Antonio Carmago and Glen Penfield, two geophysicists that were searching for petroleum in the Yucatán peninsula.
3 – Sudbury crater
The Sudbury crater is found in Ontario, Canada, and it is one of the most ancient craters by meteorite impact on Earth, formed about 1,800 years ago. It has a diameter of 130 kilometres, and the impact of the meteorite tore parts of the Earth’s crust at a depth of 16 kilometres.
As a result of the impact, many minerals such as nickel, copper, zinc or iron were released from the Earth’s crust, forming metal deposits around the Sudbury crater. However, there isn’t much mining activity because the area is considered a natural reserve.