Lunar and Planetary Institute
Lunar and Planetary Institute



Mapping Structural Elements of Small Buried Craters Using Ground=Penetrating Radar in the Southwestern Egyptian DesertPotential Impact Field Discovered in Egypt

July 14, 2006

An international team of scientists, including LPI Visiting Scientist
Dr. Essam Heggy, has discovered what may be the potential largest impact crater field ever found on Earth, uncovering the first evidence that the planet suffered from simultaneous meteor impacts in the recent past. Using orbital SAR images, the team detected more than 1300 small crater-like structures distributed over an area of 40,000 km2 in the Western Egyptian Desert, close to the Gilf Kebir plateau. Sixty-two of them were visited in the field during two field surveys held in 2004, and morphological observations, rock samples and ground-penetrating radar profiles were obtained. The current observation suggests two main hypotheses for their origin: hydrothermal vent complexes and meteorite impacts. The team hopes to reduce the ambiguities associated with the nature and origin of this unique structure through that the upcoming field and laboratory studies to be carried in the next few years.

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Heggy, E. and P. Paillou, Mapping Structural Elements of Small Buried Craters Using Ground-Penetrating Radar in the Southwestern Egyptian Desert:  Implications for Mars Shallow Sounding, Geophys. Res. Letter, Vol.33, No.5, L05202, DOI, 10.1029/2005GL024263, March 2006.

Paillou, P., A. El Barkooky, A. Barakat, J.-M. Malézieux , B. Reynard, J.Dejax, E. Heggy, Discovery of the Largest Crater Field on Earth in the Gilf Kebir Region, Egypt, Geoscience, Vol. 336, pp. 1491–1500, December 2004.

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Last updated January 30, 2008