Almost 140 impact craters are known on the Earth. They formed by impacts of cosmic bodies. Earth should have many more impact craters, like the Moon. But unlike the Moon, Earth has intense geological processes which erase the traces of cosmic bombarding on our planet. When a cosmic body collides with the Earth, the impactor’s gigantic kinetic energy is expended, forming a crater and breaking, melting and evaporating the target material. These processes lead to formation of unusual rocks, called impactites, which have clear identifying features caused by the immense temperatures and pressures they have undergone. Large impact events – those which form craters of 100 km or more in diameter – could lead to global climate changes by filling Earth’s atmosphere with dust. Many scientists think that the great Mesozoic extinction, including the extinction of the dinosaurs, resulted from the collision of a large cosmic body with the Earth.
The Smerdyachee Lake
The Smerdyachee Lake is located in the Moscow district in Shatura region, approximately 140 km east of Moscow. This perfectly round and 350 m in diameter lake’s unusual depth (40 m) and high, mounded, wall-like sides make it something different from the rest of the lakes. The well-developed rim wall is about 15 – 20 meters high.
The Estonian scientists Yu.V. Krestlane and K.H. Mella proposed in 1987, based on the analysis by N.A Fillin of nearby Roshal, Russia that Smerdyachee Lake is a meteorite crater. But, no other constructive proofs were presented apart from this.
Then in 2002, the Laboratory of Meteoritics of the Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences explored this mysterious lake and the preliminary study of the rocks stated that impact melt of local sedimentary rocks is present.
This point suggested that this lake is indeed a meteorite crater. According to the researchers, the impactor had a diameter of 14-20 m and a mass of 11-13 thousand tons which would have caused an explosion equivalent to 250 kilotons, 10-15 times the size of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
What Did The Researchers Find?
With the 2002 research, it was concluded that the lake was essentially a crater formed by a heavy impact. The scientists discovered fragments of basement rocks within the lake wall, covered with a thick layer of sandy deposits and has no outcrops on the surface. This pointed towards the fact that this lake was excavated to its 40 m depth by an impact explosion. Also, according to the researchers, this lake was formed approximately 10 thousand years ago, making it a natural monument.
Local fishermen had reported strange pungent smell of hydrogen sulfide emanates from the lake. That is why the lake has got its name “Smerdyachee” (“Stinking Lake” in Russian).
Myths Associated With This Lake
There are a lot of myths associated with this strange place. There have been numerous reports of supernatural disturbances and other paranormal activities around the lake.
Local residents claim there was a church right on the place where lake is located. One day it has vanished without any trace along with the priest, and a smelly lake appeared instead. Since than the reflection of sunk church is coming up to the surface. Some people consider it as some sort of sign from heavens.
There some claims Smerdyachee lake has a double bottom, which, rising and sinking alternately. At a depth of roughly 20 metres into the lake, there is a so-called thermocline – the water below this level has a very low oxygen content and a higher than normal hydrogen sulphide content. Any objects that have ended up in the hydrogen sulphide water over thousands of years may have been preserved virtually unchanged. Scientists hope one day some rare artifacts would be unearthed from the bottom of mysterious lake.
Vyacheslav Gusyakov, Head of Laboratory of the Institute of Computation Mathematics and Mathematical Geophysics believes this lake is the most mysterious and extremely valuable for further studying. He also suggests it might be much more than 10,000 years old.