Bad Astronomy

Deforestation reveals an old scar

The BBC is reporting that a previously unknown potential impact crater has surfaced in the Congo. This region was heavily forested, hiding the crater, but recent widespread deforestation has revealed the ancient impact scar.

Obviously, I’m conflicted about this.

If this is an impact crater (it has not yet been confirmed), it’s about 40 km (25 miles) across, making it one of the largest seen on the Earth. We haven’t been hit by a big asteroid in a long time, and erosion has erased most of the impact craters. There’s a picture of the crater on that link above, and the crater is obviously very old.

It’s fascinating to know that such a large feature can be hidden at all, but it’s sad indeed on how it got uncovered. I can hope no one would be so crass as to suggest we should continue to deforest our planet in hopes of finding more treasures, but I have seen far worse things suggested to support unrestrained mining, drilling, and polluting. I’m glad something good came of this horrific practice, but all things told, I think I’d rather it had remained tucked away among thousands of square kilometers of trees.

Tip o’ the Whipple Shield to Ted Judah.