40. Ries, Germany
The Ries impact structure, southern Germany, does not show up well in space-based images. This panoramic oblique aerial view of the Ries Crater (from the southwest) shows the outline of the crater rim emphasized by clouds. The crater rim has a maximum elevation of about 200 meters above the crater floor. No central uplift is visible, but there is an irregular inner ring about 12 kilometers in diameter, which is composed of a few hills rising about 50 meters above the surrounding surfaces. Shortly after the impact event 15 million years ago, the crater was covered by sedimentary rocks, which were only removed by erosion about 1 or 2 million years ago, leading to the excellent preservation state of the structure. A number of drill cores have recovered samples from the crater's interior and good exposures of ejected breccias occur within and around the structure. The medieval city of Nördlingen, situated somewhat off-center in the southwestern part of the crater, has an excellent crater museum. It is also worth noting that the church of St. George, in the center of the city, is built mainly from blocks of suevite, and that the diameter of the old city within its medieval walls (about 1 kilometer) coincides with the estimated diameter of the bolide that formed the crater. The age of the Ries Crater is identical to the age of the 3.4-kilometer-diameter Steinheim Crater, which is about 40 kilometers southwest of the center of the Ries. The Ries Crater has also been identified as the source crater of the Central European tektites (moldavites).
Image courtesy of Rieskrater Museum, Nördlingen, Germany.