Vredefort crater

Vredefort Crater

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Vredefort crater

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Vredefort crater is the largest verified impact crater on Earth. It is located in the Free State Province of South Africa and named after the town of Vredefort, which is situated near its centre. The site is also known as the Vredefort dome or Vredefort impact structure. In 2005, the Vredefort Dome was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites for its geologic interest.

Formation and structure

The asteroid that hit Vredefort is estimated to be one of the largest ever to strike Earth (at least since the Hadean eon some four billion years ago). The asteroid is thought to have been approximately in diameter.

The crater has a diameter of roughly , larger than the Sudbury Basin and the Chicxulub crater. This makes Vredefort the largest known impact structure on Earth. If the Wilkes Land crater in Antarctica is an impact crater then it is the largest known at diameter. The Vredefort crater's age is estimated to be 2,023 ± 4 million years. It hit during the Paleoproterozoic era. It is the second-oldest known crater on Earth, a little less than 300 million years younger than the Suavjärvi crater in Russia.

It was originally thought that the dome in the center of the crater was formed by a volcanic explosion, but in the mid 1990s evidence revealed that it was the site of a huge bolide impact, as telltale shatter cones were...
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