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How can I tell if I have found an impact crater?

There are many natural processes other than impacts that can create circular features and depressions on the surface of the Earth. These include glaciation, volcanism, atolls, uplift, intrusions, and hydrothermal explosions (to name just a few). People also sometimes mistake prehistoric mines and quarries for impact craters.

Although the USGS has been involved in impact crater research, we are neither the experts nor the ultimate authority on impact craters. Canada’s University of New Brunswick Planetary and Space Science Center is the best resource for confirming a structure as an impact crater. They maintain an Earth Impact Database and provide guidelines for identification of impact craters. You can also report a potential impact crater.

Tags: Metals, Meteorite, Crater