Feedback archive Feedback 2015

Maniitsoq crater, Greenland

Credit (and homepage) Carsten Egestal Thuesen, GEUS. oldest-impact-crater-on-earth-discovered-in-greenland
Artist’s impression of meteorite impact into the sea.

Today’s feedback comes from Luke E. from Canada who is curious about the Maniitsoq crater in Greenland. It is answered by CMI geologist.

Hi, I’m a 16 year old from Canada who is a firm believer in biblical creation. I was reading the new Guinness world record book, and I stumbled upon a question, that I couldn’t answer, and I couldn’t find it on your website. They have found a 100 km wide crater in Greenland. They estimate it to be 3 billion years old, but obviously, I don’t believe that. They claim that an impact like that would have wiped out a huge number of creatures, and yet there’s no record of this. It’s called the Maniitsoq crater. I’m very interested in hearing back from you.

—Luke E.

Hi Luke,

In order to understand how a geological feature fits within the biblical history it is necessary to re-interpret the way it is reported, and this primarily involves reinterpreting the quoted dates. In the article Haleakala volcano on the Island of Maui, Hawaii I describe how I research and re-interpret a geological site that is new to me. This should help you, too, when you encounter something that you have not heard of before, and for which you cannot find information on a creation site.

Shane Torgerson via Wikimedia Meteorcrater
Meteor Crater near Winslow in northern Arizona, USA, is about 1.2 km in diameter and has a well preserved bowl and rim. It’s said to be 50,000 years old, which, from the chronological conversion table below, places it within the period of the post-Flood Ice Age.

In the case of the Maniitsoq crater in Greenland, a Google search turned up lots of articles about it. An article on the website Universe Today dated 29 June 2012 said:

“Scientists found the remains of the giant 100-kilometer (62 mile) wide crater near the Maniitsoq region of West Greenland and they believe it’s three billion years old.”1

If we just take this claim at face value, and apply the preliminary re-interpretation from the table (reproduced below) from the article Haleakala volcano on the Island of Maui, Hawaii we can see that the 3-billion-year-old crater would have formed very early during Noah’s Flood.

As well as this article about the Haleakala volcano, the relationship between the billion-year geological column and biblical history is addressed in many other articles on this site, including The geological column is a general Flood order with many exceptions and the box entitled Relative timing of geologic events in the article Devil’s Tower and Bible glasses.

Search on creation.com for “cratering” and “impacts” and you will find articles that discuss how meteor craters fit within a biblical framework. For example, the articles A biblically-based cratering theory and Response to Faulkner’s biblically-based cratering theory discuss impact structures on the moon and further afield in the solar system, exploring when such cratering could have occurred within biblical history.

Some creation researchers have proposed that significant meteor impacts occurred early during Noah’s Flood. Some even suggest that meteor impacts were connected with the initiation of that event, while others have a different view. There has been considerable discussion about meteor impacts, including the number, intensity and consequences of such events (see, for example: How many impact craters should there be on Earth?, Impacts and Noah’s Flood—how many and other issues, and What do impacts accomplish in the first hour?) There is also an article that discusses a still larger crater, the Vredefort crater with the prominent dome in the centre. An impact that formed the Maniitsoq crater would have been connected with the early stages of the Flood event.

Location of claimed meteorite impact structure (black circle) near the town of Maniitsoq, Greenland.

However, we should never just accept claims, such as this one about the Maniitsoq crater, at face value, but we should look for more information. When we read the details about Maniitsoq crater and consult other reports, we find hints that the interpretation of the evidence as a crater may not be all it’s said to be. For example, the news report from the Cardiff University,2 where one of the scientists on the team was from, gives more details. It is apparent that it was not a matter of looking out of an airplane, or reading a map, in order to see the crater. It involved a complicated interpretation of a number of features that do not represent the whole ‘crater’.

The wording of the news report released by Cardiff University that suggests that the ‘crater’ interpretation is speculative includes:

  • “…there is no obvious bowl-shaped crater left to find.”
  • Over the 3 billion years since the impact, the land has been eroded down to expose deeper crust 25 km below the original surface.”
  • “All external parts of the impact structure have been removed …”
  • “… the effects of the intense impact shock wave penetrated deep into the crust-far deeper than at any other known crater-and these remain visible.”
  • “… because the effects of impact at these depths have never been observed before it has taken nearly three years of painstaking work to assemble all the key evidence.”
  • “We eliminated the impossible in terms of any conventional terrestrial processes, and were left with a giant impact as the only explanation for all of the facts.”
  • “It has taken us nearly three years to convince our peers in the scientific community of this …”

In other words, this is not a straightforward observation but there is much speculation and interpretation involved. All the evidence for the crater has gone with some 25 km depth of material being removed from the land surface. The interpretation of ‘crater’ was based on features at a depth far deeper than any other known crater, and the effects at this depth have never been observed before. Their peers in the scientific community have been sceptical of their interpretation.

All this suggests that we should be cautious. It is possible that what they are interpreting as evidence for an impact crater could be due to a phenomenon that they have not thought about before.

Preliminary reinterpretation of quoted geological dates into biblical time-scale

Uniformitarian ‘age’ Uniformitarian names Biblical event Biblical age
4,000 to 65 million years ago Archaean to Cretaceous Noah’s floodwaters rising First 150 days of the Flood, approximately 4,500 years ago
65 to 2.5 million years ago Paleogene and Neogene (Previously called Tertiary) Noah’s floodwaters receding Last 220 days of the Flood
2.5 million to 22,000 years ago Approximately early Pleistocene Post-Flood Ice Age building up to peak (maximum) For approximately 500 years after the Flood.
22,000 years to 6,000 years ago Approximately late Pleistocene Post-Flood Ice Age melting back For approximately 200 years after the Ice Age peak.
6,000 years ago to present Approximately Holocene Post post-Flood Ice Age Since approximately 3800 years ago.

In summary, you can easily reinterpret new reports of geological discoveries, such as the reports on the Maniitsoq crater in Greenland, by using a chronological conversion table reproduced above.3 However, you should never accept without question what is claimed and reported in these geological announcements. You should always ask yourself, “What did they actually see? What did they actually measure?” And you should dig out reports and comments that other scientists have said about any claim. By adopting this approach you will be able to make an intelligent comment on the find, and you will be careful not to commit yourself to a position that could possibly be overturned in the future.

All the best,
Tas Walker
Scientist, writer, speaker

Published: 27 January 2015

References and notes

  1. Williams, J., Oldest Impact Crater on Earth Discovered in Greenland, 29 June 2012; http://www.universetoday.com/96047/oldest-impact-crater-on-earth-discovered-in-greenland. Return to text.
  2. Oldest known impact crater found, 28 June 2012; http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/news/articles/oldest-known-impact-crater-found-9091.html. Return to text.
  3. This table was first published in the article Haleakala volcano on the Island of Maui, Hawaii, which discusses some of the other issues and problems that need to be considered when making these sorts of re-interpretations. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Footprints in the Ash
by John Morris, Steven A Austin
US $17.00
Hard cover