Kaali Craters Estonia

It is reasonably rare to find intact meteorite craters on Earth, but on Saaremaa Island, Estonia, there is a group of nine craters to be seen.

The nine depressions, which is all that is left of the meteorite, were thought to be extinct volcanic calderas, and 1937, when scientists studied rock samples from the area and discovered them to be the remains of a meteorite.

There are nine of these craters from the meteorite which hit the area approximately 4,000 years ago. The craters all belong to the same meteorite, but it broke up into at least nine distinct pieces after entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and although the craters look quite benign now, they would have had a massive affect on the area when they first plummeted into the earth.

Upon impact, the meteorites would have devastated an area with a radius of about 6 kilometres, and they were recent enough to be included in the local mythology.

The main crater, which is called Kaali Lake, is the world’s eighth largest known meteorite crater, with a diameter of 110 metres and a depth of 22 metres. Today the crater is filled with water, the depth of which varies depending on the seasons.

The age of the impact has been deduced by examining peat in the area, which clearly shows when the debris from the impact was caused.

The largest of the eight smallest craters is 76 metres, and all are located within several hundred metres of Kaali Lake.

Saaremaa Island is Estonia’s largest island, and is located in the Baltic Sea and 200 kilometres from Tallinn, the country’s capital. Saaremaa has been occupied for about 5,000 years, and so the meteorite which hit the island is the only known major meteorite to smash into an area inhabited by humans, which is probably why it plays such an important part in mythology.

In fact, at one stage Kaali Lake was considered to be sacred, and a large wall was erected around it, and, it is believed, sacrifices were made by the lake to appease the gods. The brightness of the explosion which accompanied the impact led ancient people to believe that Kaali Lake was the place where the sun goes to rest.

The easiest way to reach Saaremaa during the warmer months is by ferry, which links both the mainland and several other islands, and during the winter there is an ice road which allows direct access to the island and its spectacular craters.

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