An international travel blog Wow Travel compiled a list of the 10 most impressive impact craters in the world, including Kaali on the Estonian island of Saaremaa.
An impact crater, also known as meteorite crater, is created by a collision of a meteorite with the Earth surface.
“Our planet is dotted with 175 known impact craters that bear witness to occasional explosive encounters with large rocks from outer space, but surely our planet has endured more bashing than that in its history. All the other terrestrial planets and moons in our solar system are covered by impact craters,” the site said, highlighting the Kaali area as a location of Estonia’s most unique geological object.
Kaali is a group of 9 meteorite craters in the village of Kaali in Saaremaa. Formed more than 4,000 years ago – indicated by the age of the sediments at the bottom of crater lake – and possibly as long as 7,600 years ago, it is a comparatively recent crater. It was created by an impact event and is possibly the only known major impact that has occurred in a populated area.
The craters were formed by a meteor with an estimated impact velocity of between 10 and 20 km/s with a total mass of between 20 and 80 metric tonnes. At an altitude of 5–10 kilometers, the meteorite broke into pieces and fell to the Earth in fragments, the greatest of which produced a crater with a diameter of 110 meters and a depth of 22 meters. It is estimated that the explosion formed a 7–8 kilometer tall, extremely hot gas flow and forests were burned up to 6 kilometers from the impact site.
It is possible that the site had a small human population, in which case the people would have not survived as the impact energy was comparable with that of the Hiroshima bomb blast.
Kaali has also featured prominently in regional mythology and the crater lake is still considered a sacred site.
Editor: S. Tambur