Popigai: Russia’s Crater of Diamonds – Estimated To Contain “Trillions of Carats”

Popigai is one of the largest and most well-preserved impact craters on Earth.

About 36 million years ago, an asteroid slammed into northern Siberia and created one of the largest craters on Earth. Streaking in at an estimated speed of 20 kilometers (12 miles) per second, the asteroid made an impact that ejected millions of metric tons of material into the air. The asteroid—between 5 and 8 kilometers (3 to 5 miles) wide—created a crater nearly 100 kilometers (60 miles) in diameter.

Popigai crater is the fourth largest verified impact crater on Earth, tying the Manicouagan Reservoir in Canada. The three larger craters are either buried (Chicxulub), deformed (Sudbury), or severely eroded and deformed (Vredefort). Popigai has only been slightly modified by erosion, leaving it as one of the most well-preserved craters in the world.

The images on this page show Popigai crater, named for a nearby river. The images were created using Blue Marble data, a cloud-free composite of monthly observations from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) observations. The data was draped over an ASTER-derived global digital elevation model, which shows the topography of the area.

Located about 100 kilometers from the Laptev Sea coast, the round depression dives about 150 to 200 meters (500 to 650 feet) below the surrounding land. Geological mapping and field observations show a central depression at the bottom of the crater, surrounded by a peak ring of about 45 kilometers (30 miles) wide. The ring gradually passes outwards into a ring-shaped trough, which is surrounded by a flat annular terrace.

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