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Undiscovered economic benefit: Geologists look for meteorite craters

2014-07-01

The Lithuanian Geological Survey (LGS) has undertaken the project Lithuanian Impact Craters in cooperation with Vilnius University. The project aims to identify new impact craters from the Quaternary period throughout Lithuania.

Meteorite impact craters are exceptional geological structures originating from space. These craters are witnesses to the geological history and economically valuable depositories of minerals. Their value has been supported by recent economic estimates made by Polish researchers. These structures relate to significant deposits of the copper, nickel, uranium, gold, platinum group metals and hydrocarbons.

Impact craters also contain vast resources of mineral water and building materials. They can be used as reservoirs in hydro energy. Given the number of impact structures globally, the economic value of these resources is huge.

Often craters can also be attractive tourist destinations (geotypes) and means to make geology more popular. Estonia is an example of the successful use of impact craters in the Baltic states as the country has identified both buried and surface impact craters. They are well researched and promoted as research and tourism sites.

So far, two buried craters of Mizarai ir Vepriai have been identified in Lithuania. They were discovered 40 years ago. Another buried impact-type structure has been recently discovered by Lithuanian oil specialists. However, the existence of an impact crater could only be reliably proven by drilling a well at the site.

No surface Quaternary craters have been identified in Lithuania. The likely reason is that their geological setup consisting of a thick sedimentary layer makes them difficult to identify and easy to confuse with cavities of other nature, especially with glaciokarst structures such as the Devil's Pit near Aukštadvaris.

Potential surface Quaternary craters are currently researched in Utena, Tauragė, Molėtai and Kaišiadorys districts. All new research materials will be important for Lithuania both scientifically and practically.

For more information, please contact Senior Geophysicist Rokas Zamžickas, Petroleum Geology Data Unit, Division of Bedrock Geology, Lithuanian Geological Survey, tel. (8 5) 233 0142.

Public Information Division
01/07/2014

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas