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TITLE: Collisions Large and Small


On Earth, the atmosphere slows small meteorites so much that they merely pit the ground. Only meteorites that are house-sized or bigger blast out a crater many times larger than the meteorite itself. From the size and structure of a crater, we get some indication of the size and speed of the body that formed it. A giant impact yields an enormous crater with central peaks or multiple rings. A smaller one leaves a simple, bowl-shaped crater.



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Crater: Sikhote-Alin

Location: Eastern Siberia

Size/Shape: Small impact that left pits up to 28 m (92 ft) across.

Age: Fall observed in 1947

Meteorites: 23 metric tons (50,000 lbs) of iron meteorite fragments were recovered.

 

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Crater: Wolf Creek

Location: Australia

Size/Shape: Simple crater nearly a kilometer (.56 mi) across. Rim 25 m (80 ft) high.

Age: Less than 300,000 years old

Meteorites: Iron meteorite fragments still found in vicinity.

 

See caption at right.

Crater: Mistastin Lake

Location: Canada

Size/Shape: 28 km (17 mi) across with a central peak. Glaciers have eroded much of the original structure.

Age: 38 million years old

Meteorites: No meteorite fragments found.

 

See caption at right.

Crater: Manicouagan

Location: Quebec, Canada

Size/Shape: 100-km-wide (60-mi), multi-ringed structure. The ring-shaped lake encloses a central uplift.

Age: 214 million years old

Meteorites: No meteorite fragments found.


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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Mineral Sciences website Credits