A large impact crater beneath Hiawatha Glacier in northwest Greenland

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article – Annual report year: 2018Researchpeer-review

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  • Author: Kjær, Kurt H.

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Larsen, Nicolaj K.

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Binder, Tobias

    Alfred Wegener Institute - Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany

  • Author: Bjørk, Anders

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Eisen, Olaf

    University of Bremen, Germany

  • Author: Fahnestock, Mark A.

    University of Alaska Fairbanks, United States

  • Author: Funder, Svend

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Garde, Adam A.

    Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Denmark

  • Author: Haack, Henning

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Helm, Veit

    Alfred Wegener Institute - Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany

  • Author: Houmark‐Nielsen, Michael

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Kjeldsen, Kristian K.

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Khan, Shfaqat A.

    Geodesy, National Space Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Elektrovej, 2800, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

  • Author: Machguth, Horst

    University of Zurich, Switzerland

  • Author: McDonald, Iain

    Cardiff University, United Kingdom

  • Author: Morlighem, Mathieu

    University of California at Irvine, United States

  • Author: Mouginot, Jeremie

    University of California at Irvine, United States

  • Author: Paden, John D.

    University of Kansas, United States

  • Author: Waight, Tod E.

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: Weikusat, Christian

    Alfred Wegener Institute - Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Germany

  • Author: Willerslev, Eske

    University of Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Author: MacGregor, Joseph A.

    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, United States

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We report the discovery of a large impact crater beneath Hiawatha Glacier in northwest Greenland. From airborne radar surveys, we identify a 31-kilometer-wide, circular bedrock depression beneath up to a kilometer of ice. This depression has an elevated rim that cross-cuts tributary subglacial channels and a subdued central uplift that appears to be actively eroding. From ground investigations of the deglaciated foreland, we identify overprinted structures within Precambrian bedrock along the ice margin that strike tangent to the subglacial rim. Glaciofluvial sediment from the largest river draining the crater contains shocked quartz and other impact-related grains. Geochemical analysis of this sediment indicates that the impactor was a fractionated iron asteroid, which must have been more than a kilometer wide to produce the identified crater. Radiostratigraphy of the ice in the crater shows that the Holocene ice is continuous and conformable, but all deeper and older ice appears to be debris rich or heavily disturbed. The age of this impact crater is presently unknown, but from our geological and geophysical evidence, we conclude that it is unlikely to predate the Pleistocene inception of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaar8173
JournalScience Advances
Volume4
Issue number11
Number of pages12
ISSN2375-2548
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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