Czech Impact Crater Detected

From Times staff and wire service reports

A geologic footprint covering most of western Czechoslovakia may be the imprint of an immense object that smashed into Earth millions of years ago, scientists said last week. Based on a study of satellite images of central Europe taken from 22,500 miles in space, professors Michael Papagiannis and Farouk El-Baz said the shape is an apparent crater 200 miles in diameter.

The researchers, both from Boston University, named the depression "Praha Basin" because the city of Praha (Prague) is near its center. The researchers presented their study to the American Astronomical Society.

Supporting the crater theory is the recent claim of Czechoslovakian scientists that a 30-mile-wide impact formation was found south of Prague. The formation is at least 100 million years old.

"The object that could have caused such an impact crater could have been 50 miles in diameter. It must have begun burning and possibly breaking up as it entered the Earth's atmosphere and plunged deeply into the ground," said El-Baz.

"The impact of such a large object would have been the equivalent of an explosion a trillion times more powerful than the atom bomb at Hiroshima," Papagiannis said.

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