Meteorite Craters near Agadez, Niger

There is a spot in the Niger Sahara Desert that looks like the surface of the moon, and for good reason.  It appears that at least twenty meteorites struck this part of Africa millions of years ago.  One crater is 60 kilometers in diameter, and another is 42 kilometers wide.  The combined areas of all these impacts is probably greater than the impact that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Considering that the impact features are relatively black compared to the desert sand, it is remarkable that the craters have not been recorded in the Earth Impact Database of the Planetary and Space Science Centre, University of New Brunswick.  The largest of the circular areas is 60-kilometers wide with its center at Latitude: 18.820749, Longitude: 8.75553. The Northwest edge of the area is very distinct and located at Latitude: 19.072668, Longitude 8.602214. The Southeast edge of the area is at Latitude: 18.652018, Longitude: 8.980622.

These prominent features are considered to have been formed by lava flows because impact craters usually have features created by the shock of the impacts.  However, the impacts of a dense meteorite cluster are so intense, that the surface melts and many of the meteorites fall on the surface that has been melted by previous impacts.  Consequently, typical impact features like brecciation and shatter cones are not present in the Aïr Mountains of Niger.  Instead, the surface has overlapping rings and splash zones that are characteristic of impacts on liquids.

Learn more about the Agadez craters