Scientists find first crater under Earth's continental ice sheets

Published: Nov. 19, 2018 at 8:15 PM AKST
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A team from across the globe, including a researcher from UAF’s geophysical institute, discovered a new impact crater. This is the first time that a crater of any size has been found under the Earth's continental ice sheets. The impact crater was discovered in a remote area in northwest Greenland and is among the 25 largest found on the planet thus far. Buried under roughly 3,000 feet of ice, the crater stretches almost 19 miles across.

Mark Fahnestock is a research professor at UAF. For nearly two decades, Fahnstock has studied radar maps of the ground under Greenland’s ice sheet. It wasn't until 2015 when he, along with colleagues from NASA and the natural history museum in Denmark, verified the discovery.

"We have enough evidence to say that it is an impact crater and we know it's quite large and we know the ice sheet hasn't erased its expression. We have the impression that it's fairly young, but we don't know an exact age yet, that's more work to be done. We don't know everything about the planet that we live on and you're reminded of that when you're involved in being able to figure out something like this puzzle," he said.

Researchers are still working to confidently date the impact. The crater could be as old as the last ice age, which was around 12,000 years ago.

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