Pingualuit Impact Crater in Canada

Nov 23, 2013 0 comments

In the far north of Quebec, a province in Canada, lies an exceptional natural wonder – a circular lake of blue waters confined within the walls of an ancient but well-preserved meteorite crater. Largely unknown to the outside world, the lake-filled crater had long been known to local Inuit who knew it as the "Crystal Eye of Nunavik" for its clear water. The lake was first observed by the crew of a United States Army Air Force plane in June 1943, who used the lake’s unusual shape and color for navigation, but pictures of it weren’t made public until 1950.

When Ontario diamond prospector Frederick W. Chubb saw the photographs, he became interested in it. He hoped that this might be an extinct volcano and there was a possibility to find diamonds nearby. Chubb sought the opinion of geologist V. Ben Meen of the Royal Ontario Museum, who immediately saw the possibility of an impact crater. Meen organized an expedition to this remote area together with Chubb. It was on this trip that Meen proposed the name "Chubb Crater". Meen organized two more expeditions to the crater, and from the data collected from the site, concluded that the structure was a meteorite crater produced from an impact roughly 1.4 million years ago.


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The name of the lake was later changed to "New Quebec Crater" at the request of the Quebec Geographic Board. In 1999, the name was again changed, to "Pingualuit". The crater and the surrounding area are now part of Pingualuit National Park.

Pingualuit crater is 3.44 km in diameter. The crater rises 160 meters above the surrounding tundra and is 400 meters deep. A 267 meters deep body of water fills the depression, forming one of the deepest lakes in North America. The lake also holds some of the purest fresh water in the world, with a salinity level of less than 3 ppm. The lake has no inlets or apparent outlets, so the water accumulates solely from rain and snow and is only lost through evaporation. It is also one of most transparent lakes in the world with visibilities up to 35 meters.


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