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Thousands of years old "fresh" crater discovered in Egypt
July 26, 2010 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Early into the Egypt-Italy Science Year 2009, a crater was found by a research team with Google Earth on the hyperarid southern edge of Egypt. Not associated with the earlier documented Clayton craters located in the south-east corner of Egypt, the recently discovered crater is unique for its untouched, pristine nature that appears more similar to other planets and moons with thin atmospheres, even though the impact has been estimated to be a few thousand years old. The crater, labeled Gebel Kamil, will be the 177th known impact site on Earth, as logged by the Earth Impact Database.

Due to the scarcity of impact craters due to natural conditions erasing impact markers, not much is known about these smaller meteorites. Prior assumptions lead to the belief that iron meteors of this size and mass would not remain as intact, but this new-found crater suggests otherwise.

If you'd like to see more craters on Google Maps, this Geology.com page has a handy map.
posted by filthy light thief (29 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Gosh it's a cute little crater. . .unless of course you were there for the impact.
posted by Danf at 1:05 PM on July 26, 2010


wow, that really does look like some places visited by the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, although I'm sure that part of Egypt is quite a bit warmer than Mars.
posted by smoothvirus at 1:08 PM on July 26, 2010


How long 'til someone wonders if this happened 2010 years ago?
posted by Randwulf at 1:39 PM on July 26, 2010


I remember the first time I heard about a discovery like this and I spent a good afternoon getting drunk and scanning the world's deserts for more craters, all in the name of science.

Also related: Scientists discover new forest with undiscovered species on Google Earth
posted by Think_Long at 1:40 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I fucking knew we couldn't trust Bruce Willis to do a job correctly.
posted by item at 1:45 PM on July 26, 2010


Also related: Scientists discover new forest with undiscovered species on Google Earth

I generally think the "Fuck Yeah [Topic]" tumblr pages are silly, but I'm thinking of making a Fuck Yeah Google Earth tumblr. It'd be pretty short in terms of really awesome things found, but it's that or make a Wiki page that lists Discoveries Thanks to Google Earth, which sounds ripe for deletion.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:48 PM on July 26, 2010


By a few thousand years, are we talking about 10,000 years ago, or during recorded history?
posted by empath at 2:01 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


And for those of us who worry sometimes about a big asteroid impact, this is reassuring, sort of.
posted by bearwife at 2:03 PM on July 26, 2010


P.S. Of course, it could be that if Dr. Tyson is right, April 2029 could be a bad month for the West Coast.
posted by bearwife at 2:10 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


That'd be a hell of a thing to see first hand from a relatively safe distance. I wonder what kind of sound it would make?
posted by loquacious at 2:14 PM on July 26, 2010


whooooooomp . . . sizzle
posted by Think_Long at 2:35 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I notice this crater has rays associated with it (2nd link, 2nd image).

I'm willing to accept that these rays are made up of ejecta from the crater, but I don't see why this ejected material would assemble itself into semi-regular spaced spokes rather than taking on a more uniform distribution; it can't have much to do with an atmosphere, because we see so many on the Moon, some of them with rays going half way around it; it can't be surface tension causing liquefied ejecta to make itself into a crown pattern, the way we see with all those splashing milk drop photos (which incidentally seem to show a very uniform distribution of ejecta close to the edge of the 'crater') because square-cube considerations make surface tension less important for larger events, and that's not what we seem to me to see on the Moon.

That seems to leave us with some kind of not very satisfying drum-head like pattern of excitation of radial modes of vibration just before and during ejection-- but there is no stretched skin on the crater drumhead, of course.
posted by jamjam at 2:40 PM on July 26, 2010


"Untouched meteorite impact crater..." with photo of said crater with two people standing in the frigging middle of it...

"untouched" does not mean what that headline writer thinks it means....
posted by HuronBob at 2:49 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you want to see this crater in Google maps, try this link: Kamil Crater.
posted by RichardP at 3:05 PM on July 26, 2010


wonder what kind of sound it would make?

Depends on where it falls.

If Dr. Tyson is right about a landing in 2029, maybe SPLASH. . .. WHOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSHHHHHH!!!!
posted by bearwife at 3:20 PM on July 26, 2010


I remember the first time I heard about a discovery like this and I spent a good afternoon getting drunk and scanning the world's deserts for more craters, all in the name of science.

Well, that about sews up my plans for the evening.
posted by missmary6 at 3:28 PM on July 26, 2010


why this ejected material would assemble itself into semi-regular spaced spokes rather than taking on a more uniform distribution

This calls for empirical testing!

One potential explanation is natural topography. For example, roughly between 3:00 and 4:00 from the crater in the image, there's a big line where the ejecta just stops. It looks like there's a ridge there the blocked the flow. That ridge is large, so has a large and apparent effect, but maybe there are smaller ridges that created similar smaller effects around the crater site. I'm not sure what actually happens to land when craters hit, but it seems unlikely that all the ground would depress equally, and the spots with greater depressions may have more ejecta associated with them. But seriously, let's get some empiricism going on.
posted by scrutiny at 3:31 PM on July 26, 2010


The yellow-green scarab in the center of a famous necklace from Tutankhamun's tomb is thought to be made from glass formed in a meteor impact. The article talks about aerial bursts, but a direct impact crater seems possible too. Maybe even from this crater - who knows?
posted by Quietgal at 3:35 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interesting, credible explanation, scrutiny-- and it scales very nicely!
posted by jamjam at 5:41 PM on July 26, 2010


Huh, wouldn't the actual meteorite fragments be worth a fortune?
posted by delmoi at 6:03 PM on July 26, 2010


Yeah, I'd like to know what "a few" thousand years is too. Surely if it were less than ~4, this would be in the Egyptian record. And elsewhere, really.
posted by DU at 6:09 PM on July 26, 2010


The approximate date of impact is still unknown, but there is a guess at the vague time period. From the NatGeo link, study co-author Luigi Folco, a scientist with the University of Siena in Italy said:
"We know from literature that the human occupation of this region ended about 5,000 years ago, with the onset of hyperarid conditions. Therefore we think that the impact occurred afterwards."
Considering this was a relatively small impact, it wouldn't be the kind of thing to be seen far and wide (I'm guessing). Since the area has been extremely dry for so long, I don't think there's much reason to travel in that area, so it may well have not been seen by anyone. Then again, even if it was seen and the viewing was recorded, I don't think this current research team has focused on pinpointing the age (yet), but instead have been documenting the site itself.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:17 PM on July 26, 2010


"preliminary results suggest the meteorite probably hit no earlier than 5,000 years ago"
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:19 PM on July 26, 2010


Meteorite crashes to Earth during county cricket match
posted by stargell at 7:49 PM on July 26, 2010


I'm surprised at how minor the impact effects are.

Using the Impact Effects Calculator:

at only 1 km distance:

The air blast will arrive approximately 3.03 seconds after impact.

Max wind velocity: 4.42 m/s = 9.89 mph
Sound Intensity: 66 dB (Loud as heavy traffic)

The major seismic shaking will arrive approximately 200 milliseconds after impact.
Richter Scale Magnitude: 1.6
Mercalli Scale Intensity at a distance of 1 km:
Nothing would be felt. However, seismic equipment may still detect the shaking.

at 50 km distance:

The air blast will arrive approximately 2.53 minutes after impact.

Max wind velocity: 0.0789 m/s = 0.177 mph
Sound Intensity: 30 dB (Easily Heard)
posted by jjj606 at 7:54 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


'Meteorite' lands on cricket pitch during county match
posted by homunculus at 7:57 PM on July 26, 2010


Sweet. We can film the mars landing there. The Mojave has been boring these last 40 years.
posted by Sukiari at 11:17 PM on July 26, 2010


I remember the first time I heard about a discovery like this and I spent a good afternoon getting drunk and scanning the world's deserts for more craters, all in the name of science.

I guess you could probably assemble a potent scientific instrument out of 50 old computers, a kilogramme of meth, and the occupants of a small midwestern county jail.
posted by atrazine at 2:53 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man hit by six meteorites blames aliens
posted by homunculus at 8:33 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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