legacy page  
     homeaboutessential guidepicture of the daythunderblogsnewsmultimediapredictionsproductsget involvedcontact

picture of the day

chronological archive               subject archive


The multi-ringed Vredefort Dome, South Africa. Credit: Space shuttle STS51I-33-56AA.


Vredefort Dome
May 10, 2010

The largest crater on Earth might not have been created by a meteor impact.

Africa exhibits some of the most complex terrain on Earth. As has been suggested in past Picture of the Day articles, Africa appears to have been devastated in the recent past. From the Sahara Desert in the North to the vast dune fields of Namibia in the South, African topography resembles images taken by spacecraft in orbit around Mars.

There is more to the Martian connection than sand, however. Mars is home to some of the largest craters in the Solar System, while Africa plays host to the largest crater on Earth, otherwise known as Vredefort Dome. The "dome" is supposed to be a "rebound peak" where rocks in the crater's center melted from impact, consolidated into a single mass, and then bounced back after the explosion, freezing into an upraised mound. A similar process is thought to have formed the central peaks that can be seen in many lunar craters.

Vredefort Dome is located about 100 kilometers southwest of Johannesburg. It has been classified by geologists as the oldest and largest astrobleme on Earth: approximately 300 kilometers wide, ten kilometers deep, and nearly two billion years old. One of the characteristics shared by Vredefort and craters on other planets and moons is that it is a multi-ringed structure.

Among their common features, multi-ringed circular formations possess flat inner plains with vertical cliffs, some of which rise several kilometers. The outer rim of Vredefort is said to have eroded away over the eons, explaining why the crater was identified as a volcanic dome for decades. The vertical walls, such as those found around Popigai Crater in Siberia, are missing. It is possible that the rim was scoured away by wind and rain, but from an Electric Universe perspective the crater may not have had a rim from the moment of its inception.

In the northwestern arc of Vredefort is a secondary plain with a deep outer perimeter, like a V-shaped canyon, that also resembles the morphology of other concentric rings. Surrounding the secondary plain is another ring of cliffs with a gradual drop-off extending outward from the central uplift. That pattern is repeated several times, with shorter cliffs and broader plains, until they finally merge into the bedrock.

Was it a gigantic block of stone that formed Vredefort? Did a 10-kilometer-wide meteor strike Africa and excavate the giant crater in an explosion orders of magnitude greater than that which is supposed to have killed-off the dinosaurs? Alternatively, as has been previously proposed, did an electric arc of unimaginable force travel through the region, vaporizing the terrain and blasting out a hole along the path of a sinuous channel known as the Vaal River?

Some Electric Universe theorists think that many of the large rivers and their tributaries around the world are secondary to whatever it was that carved the beds in which they flow. In other words, rivers have "adopted" paths of least resistance through the landscape rather than founding their own courses. In the case of Vredefort Dome, the Vaal River cuts through many tiers of mountains that lie across its path as if they were not there.

This anomaly is significant, since there is no known way for a river to punch through a wall of solid rock, leaving a deep canyon. The river should have naturally gone around the barrier or gathered into a lake, not eaten away square kilometers of the hardest basalt in a clean cut.

Another anomaly within the crater is the chaotic magnetic fields that have been detected in the surface rocks, reminiscent of the intense crustal magnetism found in and around large basins on Mars. According to Rodger Hart of the iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Science in South Africa, Vredefort's magnetic fields were imprinted by strong electric currents flowing in the ionized gases generated by the energetic impact.

Mineral deformations, such as shattercones, requiring pressures and temperatures far exceeding anything seen on Earth today are put forward as evidence for the impact theory. Indeed, diamonds are abundant in the region, conforming to the consensus opinion. Downstream from the crater, the Vaal River is mined for diamonds. The pressure waves released by whatever caused the crater are thought to have compressed gneiss formations and instantaneously transformed them into diamond. The blast that created the gems also threw them hundreds of kilometers to the West, where they can be found in the riverbed.

As Wal Thornhill wrote several years ago:

"The kinds of things to watch for are pitting, surface glassification or a burnt appearance, damage caused by the explosive release of trapped gases, shock metamorphism, and isotopic and elemental anomalies....One thing to look for if shocked crystals are found and their orientation determined, is the direction from which the blast originated. Electrical cratering has a blast center that moves below ground and around the crater's center. An impact has a stationary blast center above ground that coincides with the crater's center. An example on Earth of shocked minerals oriented to a subterranean moving blast center can be found in the giant Vredefort Dome structure in South Africa."

Stephen Smith



"The Cosmic Thunderbolt"

YouTube video, first glimpses of Episode Two in the "Symbols of an Alien Sky" series.


And don't forget: "The Universe Electric"

Three ebooks in the Universe Electric series are now available. Consistently praised for easily understandable text and exquisite graphics.

  This free site search script provided by JavaScript Kit  
  FREE update -

Weekly digest of Picture of the Day, Thunderblog, Forum, Multimedia and more.
*** NEW DVD ***
  Symbols of an Alien Sky
Selections Playlist

An e-book series
for teachers, general readers and specialists alike.
(FREE viewing)
  Thunderbolts of the Gods

  Follow the stunning success of the Electric Universe in predicting the 'surprises' of the space age.  
  Our multimedia page explores many diverse topics, including a few not covered by the Thunderbolts Project.  

Authors David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill introduce the reader to an age of planetary instability and earthshaking electrical events in ancient times. If their hypothesis is correct, it could not fail to alter many paths of scientific investigation.
More info
Professor of engineering Donald Scott systematically unravels the myths of the "Big Bang" cosmology, and he does so without resorting to black holes, dark matter, dark energy, neutron stars, magnetic "reconnection", or any other fictions needed to prop up a failed theory.
More info
In language designed for scientists and non-scientists alike, authors Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott show that even the greatest surprises of the space age are predictable patterns in an electric universe.
More info

The opinions expressed in the Thunderbolts Picture Of the Day are those of the authors of
the material, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Thunderbolts Project.
The linking to material off-site in no way endorses such material and the Thunderbolts
Project has no control of nor takes any responsibility for any content on linked sites.

EXECUTIVE EDITORS: David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Michael Armstrong, Dwardu Cardona,
Ev Cochrane, C.J. Ransom, Don Scott,
Rens van der Sluijs, Ian Tresman,
Tom Wilson
WEBMASTER: Brian Talbott
© Copyright 2010:
top ]

home   •   picture of the day   •   thunderblogs   •   multimedia   •   resources   •   forum   •   updates   •   contact us   •   support us