Ever wondered if you live above a huge meteorite impact crater? If you live in the U.S., you can now find out thanks to a website depicting all the details of the 30 known impact craters in the nation.
Sizeable chunks of rock from meteorites, asteroids, and comets smashed into Earth throughout the eons she's been around. These impacts are less common nowadays, but some of the massive craters these past rock collisions made are still fascinating.
That's why Dr. Robert Beauford, who studied at the University of Kansas' Center for Space and Planetary Sciences, created a website dedicated solely to these North American impact craters.
What the site shares, and why it's useful to know about impact craters
Aside from the fact that it's just plain and simple cool to know where a massive meteorite impact crater may be located, it's also useful for a number of reasons, as Dr. Beauford points out on his site.
The site has as much information gathered as possible about 30 known impact crater sites in the U.S., so it's worth mentioning that there may be many more craters of this type in the country that have either yet to be discovered, or uploaded to the website as it was last updated in 2018.
Dr. Beauford included only the most widely recognized and least ambiguous categories of evidence for the origin of these impacts.
It's fascinating stuff, for instance, one of the impact craters on the website is the Des Plaines one in Illinois, which hurtled down to Earth some 280 million years ago, creating a five-mile wide crater (8 km). This is now the precise spot where the city of Des Plaines stands upon. That means approximately 60,000 people now live in an impact crater. And barely anyone knew that because the crater isn't easily noticeable.
Some of the craters are located in more rural areas, and are more easily spotted to the naked eye, but it doesn't make them any less interesting.
The reason impact craters are so fascinating and useful is because they provide a unique opportunity to better understand how our planet was shaped, as well as how the environments in space we hope to explore and even inhabit are like.
On top of that, carrying out research on impact craters helps to understand and mitigate the risk of future impacts, quantify past and present energy flux in planetary environments, and forming and controlling the location of recoverable resources.