Researchers at the Centre for GeoGenetics and a NASA glaciologist, Joe MacGregor, have discovered an enormous crater buried beneath Hiawatha Glacier in northern Greenland. The crater’s c-shape and planar deformation of nearby quartz samples indicate that this crater was created by a massive meteor. Using ice-penetrating radar from NASA’s Operation IceBridge, researchers discovered the crater “hiding in plain sight.” It is the first impact crater found under ice.
The “Hiawatha Impact Crater” spans 19 miles wide and 1,000 feet deep, making it among the largest craters on our planet. Evidence suggests that this crater is geologically young, and the impact could’ve occurred as recently as the last Ice Age (some 12-115 thousand years ago). View this week’s Video of the Week below to learn more about the Hiawatha Impact Crater.
Outside of Greenland, a quarter of the Arctic’s ice lies in Canada, much of it covering the Queen Elizabeth Islands. A recent paper in Environmental Research Letters found that, during the decade between 2005 and 2015, surface melt from the ice caps and glaciers of the Queen Elizabeth Islands increased by a staggering 900 percent, from an annual average of 3 gigatons to 30 gigatons of water.
This vast input to the ocean renders the Canadian Arctic a major contributor to sea level rise. As the Arctic continues to warm, researchers expect the glacial melt to increase significantly in the next decades. While the glaciers of the Canadian Arctic remain, take a look at some striking NASA imagery of the glaciated Queen Elizabeth Islands.