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Enormous crater discovery to hide under Greenland's ice is greater than Washington, D.C.

Download the Mach newsletter. SUBSCRIBE Nov. 20, 2018 / 6:02 PM GMT By David Freeman An international research group says…

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By David Freeman

An international research group says they have discovered a massacre of great proportions that hide under more than half a mile of ice in Greenland.

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9 miles wide and about 1,000 meters deep, the large bowl-shaped depression is larger than Washington, DC, and one of the 25 largest craters ever discovered on Earth. It is also the first crater that has been discovered under a continental ice sheet.

The crater was formed when a meteorite broke more than half a mile in an area now covered by the Hiawatha glacier in northwestern Greenland, researchers say in a paper describing their discovery.

The researchers can not specify the age of the crater. But the well-preserved state suggests that it was formed “after the ice started covering Greenland, younger than three million years old and possibly as recently as 12,000 years ago,” says Kurt Kjaer, professor at the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen and leader of the team, said in a written statement.

Close to the area where the crater was found. Denmark’s Natural History Museum [19659012] Regardless of the age of the crater, discovery serves as a reminder that the earth still has some secrets on its sleeve.

“There is still so much more about our landscape that we have not yet understood,” said Joe MacGregor, a glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and a member of the scientific team. “It is especially true for the polar regions, because so much is covered with ice.”

The researchers first discovered evidence of the Crater 2015 when they noticed an unusual feature on a topographic map made by data obtained by NASA aircraft investigated in the area of ​​intrusive radar. They spent the next three years confirming the discovery, using satellite imagery and further aerial surveys made with a newer and more advanced radar system.

“Radar sounding of ice sheet is a decade of old technology now, but the system we used to study Hiawatha Glacier is the most sophisticated but still deployed to investigate a glacier,” MacGregor told NBC News MACH in an email.

The Hiawatha glacier with the ice plate was removed. Bondage under the ice clearly shows the Hiawatha crater. Denmark’s Natural History Museum / NASA

In its last step to confirm the discovery, the researchers visited the 2016 and 2017 areas to collect samples of sediments that had been washed out from under the glacier. The samples contained quartz pieces of internal structures deformed at intense pressure.

This so-called shocked quartz has been found in other craters as well as in areas where underground nuclear tests have been conducted. Its presence helped convince the researchers that the strange feature on the map was indeed a battlefield.

Other researchers want more evidence.

“I can say what they present as shock quarters is definitely shock quarterly” Ludovic Ferriere, a slagger expert at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, told National Geographic. “I think they have something here,” he added, “but they make strong conclusions based on very preliminary tasks.”

Clark Chapman, a senior researcher at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, expressed similar skepticism. He said in an email that it was “credible that the function is a battlefield”, it was difficult to say for sure because the landform is buried so deeply under the ice and not immediately reached.

In response To the criticism, MacGregor said the researchers hoped to return to the area to carry out further research but acknowledged the difficulty of drilling through the ice and into the underlying bedrock for more evidence. It would be a difficult process that could take several years, he said.

However, he said that the existing evidence was sufficient and that, given the shape of the geological property under the ice and the sediment samples, there was only a “very narrow” chance that the function under the ice is not a battlefield.

“The simplest explanation of our observations is that the glacier is above a battlefield,” he said.

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