A POSSIBLE IMPACT CRATER JUST NORTH OF URUAPAN, MICHOACAN, MEXICO


Google Earth, looking straight down.

Location 19°27′N 102°04′W

I read this as NOT a volcanic feature – even though it is ON a volcano. I base this on what I interpret as its interruption of the visible contours of the volcano’s western slope.

For anyone who would point out that this is right smack in the middle of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, yes, I know. However, there is nothing that precludes impactors from landing in volcanic fields. An inquirer merely needs to use some judgment in distinguishing.

In the selected image I intentionally left in a small Paricutín-type volcanic cone directly west. I think this shows that though there is similarity with the “crater”, it is only in its circularity. The small volcano is conical with a small circular mouth. The “crater”, if it is to be seen as a volcano, has a “mouth” that is nearly 90% of the diameter of the conical outer slope of the feature. This seems much more consistent with a crater than a volcano.

In addition, the caldera of the “crater” is flat, like many craters are.

If GE did not screw up the imaging, this shows clearly that the feature is a discontinuity vs the slope of the volcanic slope. I am certain that the “Terrain” database and processor in GE gets these things VERY close to accurate, even if the image overlaid on it is distorted in the process. If that is close to reality, you can even see the way the erosion channels on the volcano’s slope were affected by the impact process.

This “crater” is about 1km in diameter. The Earth Impact Database has ones listed that are smaller. I notice that there is only ONE crater in their list in Mexico, and that is Chicxulub. Wow. I think Mexico is ripe for discovery.

In any event, this one certainly isn’t in their confirmed list. I wonder if they have a list of “definitely not” failed candidates. Anybody know?

GE low angle view.

Zoomed into eye elevation 12,975 feet.

In the last image, I would point out the arc in the NW quadrant. That appears as if it might be an artifact of the trees planted there. Uruapan is known for its avocados, so I am betting those are avocado trees.  It is certainly an orchard. By viewing it in GE in a dynamic way it is apparent it is not just an artifact of  the trees, though.  There actually IS a partial circular “ditch” or “swale” there. It seems likely that the soil there (and in some other areas in the crater) is deficient, because the trees are definitely not growing well there.

The pattern appears to be impact-related, with the impactor approaching from the SE and causing a splash pattern in the NW. But not too much of one. The impact was nearly vertical, but not quite.

The way to prove this crater out is to find an impactor. It does not appear to be a cometary impact, which would most likely (certainly?) have been an air burst, due to the normal friable nature of comets. So, a meteor could be found.

I think the low-angle view is terrific, the way it shows the flatness of the crater bottom vis-a-vis the volcano’s non-flatness, plus the interruption of the western slope erosion ridges.

I was not looking for craters.  Uruapan is a city I’d like to visit some day.  It is known for its avocados and lacquer, as well as touted buy some with being the second best food city in Mexico, only behind the city of Oaxaca.  So it has been in my sights for quite some time now.  But the crater is not easy to overlook. You can see the city in the lower portion of the top image, it is that close.

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