Earth  ID: 4691

A possible second large subglacial impact crater in northwest Greenland

It is increasingly rare to find new large impact craters on Earth, let alone such craters buried beneath ice. This study by MacGregor et al. describes a possible impact crater buried beneath two kilometers of ice in northwest Greenland. The circular structure is more than 36 kilometers wide, and both its shape and other geophysical properties are consistent with an impact origin. If eventually confirmed as an impact crater, it would be only the second found beneath either of Earth’s ice sheets. The first was the Hiawatha impact crater, which is also in northwest Greenland and only 183 kilometers away from this new structure, so this team also evaluated whether these two craters could be related. They are similarly sized, but the candidate second crater appears more eroded and ice above it is much less disturbed than above the Hiawatha impact crater. Statistical analysis of the frequency of two unrelated but nearby large impacts indicates that it is improbable but not impossible that this pair is unrelated. This study expands knowledge of the impact history of the Earth and raises the question as to how many other impact craters buried beneath ice have yet to be found.


Visualization Credits

Lead Visualizer:
Cindy Starr (GST)

Project Support:
Joycelyn Thomson Jones (NASA/GSFC)
Leann Johnson (GST)
Eric Sokolowsky (GST)

Technical Support:
Laurence Schuler (ADNET)
Ian Jones (ADNET)

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

The Blue Marble data is courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC).

AMSR2 data courtesy of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Science Paper:
MacGregor, J. A., Bottke, W. F., Jr, Fahnestock, M. A., Harbeck, J. P., Kjær, K. H., Paden, J. D., Stillman, D. E., & Studinger, M. (2018). A possible second large subglacial impact crater in northwest Greenland. Geophysical Research Letters, 45.

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Data Used:
BedMachine V3: Bed Topography and Ocean Bathymetry of Greenland 2017
TERRA/MODIS/MODIS Mosaic of Greenland (MOG) Image Map
SHIZUKU (GCOM-W1)/AMSR2/10 km Daily 89 GHz Brightness Temperature 09/15/2015 - 10/15/2015
SHIZUKU (GCOM-W1)/AMSR2/10 km Daily Sea Ice Concentration 09/15/2015 - 10/15/2015
Terra and Aqua/MODIS/Blue Marble: Next Generation 2004
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glaciers
GCMD >> Location >> Greenland
SVS >> Hyperwall
SVS >> Craters
NASA Science >> Earth
NASA Earth Science Focus Areas >> Earth Surface and Interior

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version