We all went “nobody saw that??” When the Kebira impact crater in Libya was discovered and we flew on over in Google Earth to have a look. Astroseti.org’s Emilio González decided to go hunt for some more, and appears to have found some promising candidates in no time at all. He’s checked with the experts, and they say the finds look promising (though confirmation requires geologists on site). Says Emilio:
But the most important thing of this story is, probably, that using a free distributed software (Google Earth, but I’m also using NASA World Wind) anyone can search for similar structures.
I’ve made a KMZ file with Emilio’s candidate craters [KMZ]. Go have a look. He notes that they are aligned with the Aorounga crater further south in Chad, which makes it possible they are part of the same event. (The KMZ file also has Kebira, Aorounga, ThinkLemon’s database of Africa impact structures, a recent find from 2004 on the Gilf Kebir plateau in Egypt, and a few of my own candidates for good measure:-)
So what’s going on here? My guess is that until Google Earth came out, there was far more desert and tundra than there were scientists looking at satellite pictures of desert and tundra. Until a year ago, much of this imagery had to be bought, and that would have been too costly for individuals or even bored scientists — after all, why buy imagery of a specific area on the off chance you find a crater?
All that has changed with Google Earth. Back in September, Luca Mori discovered a Roman villa using Google Maps. More recently, the Kebira crater discovery prompted news that there might be one in Northern Canada, as blogged by Google Earth Blog.
Just like maths and physics has turned to distributed computing to break new ground, so too can geography, geology, and archaeology turn to distributed Google Earthing. There’s enough tundra and desert for everyone. Let’s get going.