picture of the day
False-color image of Manicouagan Crater
topography. Credit: NASA/USGS
Nov 26, 2007
Manicouagan: Impact Crater or Lightning Scar?
A giant ring-shaped crater in Canada seems to be
the result of a meteor strike. Could electrical scarring be
a better explanation?
previous Thunderbolts Picture of the Day articles about
meteor impact sites on Earth, we pointed out that the
features in and around the craters can be more readily
explained if forces other than mechanical shock and thermal
stress are considered. Some of the more important
considerations are the lack of impact debris, multiple
concentric rings, glassified spherules, shallow depressions
and steep sidewalls. One of the largest such structures on
Earth is found in Quebec, Canada.
crater's coordinates are N 51° 23' W 68° 42'. The crater is
approximately 100 kilometers wide with a central uplift
region 25 kilometers in diameter. Its age is thought to be
over 200 million years. The uplifted central plateau rises
almost 500 meters above the surface of the annular lake that
fills-in the ring-shaped structure and the peak is close to
800 meters. The crater's name comes from the Manicouagan
River that flows nearby and means, "the place where there is
bark." The name apparently refers to the manufacture of
birch bark canoes.
standard geological theory, a relatively fine pattern of
striations indicates that much of the material surrounding
the crater has been scoured away by glacial erosion. Almost
one kilometer of overlying rock is supposed to have been
removed, including the crater's original rim that enclosed
an area three-times greater than the current topography. The
raised central plateau is composed of igneous and
metamorphic rocks that are resistant to erosion so little of
it was worn down according to conventional thinking.
In the image at
the top of the page, analyzing the topographic slope in the
north-south direction created the shaded colors. Northern
slopes are rendered bright and southern slopes are dark. The
colors are related to height: green indicates the lowest
elevations, increasing with yellow, red, and magenta, to
blue at the highest elevations. The overall structure is
similar to Libya's Kebira crater - although Kebira is 31
kilometers in diameter, much smaller than Manicouagan.
Because the two formations are like other craters with
similar morphology, we may use the same qualitative
techniques for investigating their origins.
Manicouagan site are minerals that seem to indicate
tremendous shockwaves have passed through the strata. In
biotitic mica is found in "kinked bands."
Shattercones also exist in the layers surrounding the
crater. Shattercones are the result of overpressure through
the rock, causing it to compress in distinctive v-shaped
formations. Most geologists believe that shattercones are
undeniable evidence for the meteoric impact scenario, so
their presence provides confirmation for the theory.
Melted rocks and
fused breccias are also thought to be confirmation for
the theory, since craters in other parts of the world reveal
the same effects. But can the impact of a big rock moving at
45,000 kilometers-per-hour be the cause of these various
phenomena, or should we look to electrical forces for the
be construed as evidence for electric discharges through the
stone. A discharge powerful enough to form a 100-kilometer
crater would be sufficient to generate shattercones pointing
to the blast origin. It is significant, therefore, that
shattercones in the Vredefort Dome, South Africa, point
downwards and to different points of origin. In an impact
crater, the shattercones should point upwards to a
single point. The Vredefort Dome is evidence for a traveling
underground blast like that expected from a rotating
There is another possible mechanism that
produces the characteristic pattern of a "shattercone." In
Picture of the Day
shattercone patterns of incredible size were illustrated. We
have identified the formations as
and their shape is
remarkably similar to those in Manicouagan.
Shattercones may be Lichtenberg figures preserved in the
figures have been addressed many times in these pages. They
are the remains of
electric discharges through solids and they leave behind
singular shapes in the material after their passage.
Lightning strikes on pavement and in soils leave
Lichtenberg figures carved into them by the explosive
current flow. Based on the presumption of an electric
discharge, Manicouagan ought to display those features that
have been described elsewhere as electrical.
One example is
the layering of distributed debris. A spinning electric arc
will machine down through layers of soil, blasting the
melted slag across a wide area as it snakes through the
terrain. In fact, some of the geologically unique minerals
around Manicouagan have been found in Great Britain as tiny
glassified stone droplets. Surrounding the crater are
sinuous channels, additional evidence that the impact
hypothesis cannot explain.
In general, most
of the so-called meteor craters around the world should be
reconsidered from an electrical perspective. The
Merewether Impact Structure, the
Iturralde Impact Structure and many
other sites could be of electric discharge origin and
not where big rocks fell from space.
By Stephen Smith
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