In a remote area of northwest Greenland, an worldwide team of scientists has made a stunning discovery, buried beneath a kilometer of ice.
A team of global researchers has verified the discovery of the first meteorite impact crater ever found deep beneath the Greenland ice sheet. It is one of the 25 largest known impact craters on Earth, and the first found under any of our planet's ice sheets.
The crater is less than 3 million year old and was formed by a huge half-mile wide iron meteorite.
"Earlier studies have shown that large impacts can profoundly affect Earth's climate, with major consequences for life on Earth at the time".
The discovery was initially made in the 2015 but an worldwide team of researchers has been working to verify the findings ever since.
Suspicions the giant depression was a meteorite crater were reinforced when a German research plane flew over the Hiawatha Glacier and mapped the crater and the overlying ice with a new powerful ice radar.
"The crater is exceptionally well-preserved and that is surprising because glacier ice is an incredibly efficient erosive agent that would have quickly removed traces of the impact", said Kurt Kjær, a professor at the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark and lead author of the study.
Chemical analysis performed at Cardiff University allowed researchers to paint a picture of the type of object capable of causing the amount of destruction by measuring the sediment from a river that drains straight through the glacier, and looked for signs of metals that would indicate it was caused by a meteorite.
A number of iron meteorites, including a 20-tonne fragment kept at the Geological Museum in Copenhagen, had previously been found in the area around Cape York, not far from Hiawatha, leading scientists to believe an impact must have occurred in the region, a theory which lacked evidence until now. It was then covered in ice, hiding it from view, NASA said.
He said: "While it requires more research, we consider it possible that the Cape York irons may have been outer fragments or even boulders on the surface of the main meteorite".