Popigai crater facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Popigai crater
Popigai crater russia.jpg
Landsat image of Popigai crater
Impact crater/structure
Confidence Confirmed
Diameter 90 km (56 mi)
impactor diameter 5 ± 2 kilometers (3.1 ± 1.2 mi)
Age 35.7 ± 0.2 Ma
Late Eocene
Exposed Yes
Drilled Yes
Bolide type H chondrite
Location
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Country  Russia
State Krasnoyarsk
Location of the crater in Russia

The Popigai crater (or astrobleme) in Siberia, Russia, is tied with the Manicouagan Crater as the fourth largest verified impact crater on Earth. A large bolide impact created the 100-kilometre (62 mi) diameter crater approximately 35 million years ago during the late Eocene epoch (Priabonian stage). It is conjectured that it may have influenced the Eocene–Oligocene extinction event.

The crater is 300 km (190 mi) east from the outpost of Khatanga and 880 km (550 mi) northeast of the city of Norilsk. It is designated by UNESCO as a Geopark, a site of special geological heritage. There is a small possibility that the Popigai impact crater may have formed simultaneously with the approximately 35-million-year-old Chesapeake Bay and Toms Canyon impact craters.

For decades the Popigai crater has fascinated paleontologists and geologists, but the entire area was completely off limits because of the diamonds found there and the mines constructed by gulag prisoners under Stalin. However, a major investigatory expedition was undertaken in 1997, which greatly advanced understanding of the enigmatic structure. The impactor in this event has been identified as either an 8 km (5.0 mi) diameter chondrite asteroid, or a 5 km (3.1 mi) diameter stony asteroid.

The shock pressures from the impact instantaneously transformed graphite in the ground into diamonds within a 13.6 km (8.5 mi) radius of the impact point. These diamonds are usually 0.5 to 2 mm (0.020 to 0.079 in) in diameter, though a few exceptional specimens are 10 mm (0.39 in) in size. The diamonds not only inherited the tabular shape of the original graphite grains but they additionally preserved the original crystals' delicate striations.

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