Friday, May 20, 2022

Wolfe Creek Crater: Everything You Need To Know

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The Wolfe Creek crater is the second largest meteorite crater – also known as an astrobleme – in the world. It’s hard to get a sense of scale just from photos, but this bad boy is big, and old. Up until 2019, it was believed that it was a whopping 300,000 years old, until new scientific dating techniques allowed for an amended estimation of 120,000 years. 

On Djaru country, the crater is on the edge of the Kimberley’s Great Sandy Desert. The site has been a Class A reserve since 1976; accessed via the Tanami Road, it’s approximately 150km south of Halls Creek – a 4WD is recommended as the road is notorious for corrugations. As with much of the Kimberley, it’s recommended to visit during the dry season which runs from May to October – during the wet season, much of the park is inaccessible.

The crater has long been known to the Aborigines, as evidenced by the numerous legends and myths that try to explain its origin which are passed down from generation to generation. The crater has been known to Europeans only for a few decades: it was in fact discovered during an aerial survey in 1947 and subsequently studied on site two months later.

Since then, numerous expeditions have made it possible to carefully study the history and properties of the crater.

The crater has a diameter of 880 meters and a depth of 60 meters. Several iron meteorites have been found in its vicinity: this makes Wolfe Creek Crater the second largest crater in the world in which fragments of the impacting asteroid have been found.

The crater is also very well preserved: this has allowed us to reconstruct the history of its formation. According to the latest studies, the crater should have formed about 120,000 years ago, when an asteroid with a diameter of 15 meters and a mass of 17 tons hit the Earth's surface at a speed of 15 km/s.

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