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What is the Shiva Crater?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 21, 2024
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The Shiva Crater is a large geologic feature located off the coast of India. It is believed to be an impact crater, caused by the collision of an asteroid with Earth, although some scientists have cast aspersions on this theory. Whatever caused it, the Shiva Crater is certainly gigantic, and it appears to have formed around 65 million years ago, around the same time as the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event. Some scientists think that the Shiva Crater may be linked to this historical event.

Studying the Shiva Crater is complicated, because the crater has been moved from its original location as a result of seafloor spreading. It has also deformed significantly, as the seafloor doesn't always spread at an even rate, and earthquakes and other events have further disrupted its shape. Reconstructions suggest that the crater is teardrop shaped, and it measures roughly 249 by 373 miles (400 by 600 kilometers). The crater was named by an Indian researcher for the Hindu god of destruction and rebirth.

This seafloor formation also appears to be closely related to the Deccan Traps, another large seafloor structure made from basalt which appears to be of volcanic origin. By examining the mineral composition of the Deccan Traps, researchers hope to learn more about the Shiva Crater and its relationship to the Deccan Traps and the K-T boundary, a distinctive geological signature which dates to the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event.

According to those who believe that the Shiva Crater was caused by a collision, the collision contributed to the events of the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction, in which numerous species worldwide went extinct. Several other craters have been discovered on other regions of the Earth, suggesting that the planet may have been bombarded by a series of asteroids which could have simultaneously done a great deal of damage by clouding the Earth's atmosphere and triggering geological events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

By researching structures such as the Shiva Crater, scientists hope to learn more about the life of the Earth and important events in the planet's history. If the Shiva Crater was indeed created by a catastrophic collision, it could help to explain why so many species went extinct during the Cretaceous-Tertiary event, and it might explain the mineral composition of the K-T boundary associated with this period in geologic history.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Shiva Crater?

The Shiva Crater is a geological structure located off the west coast of India. It is hypothesized to be an impact crater, created by a massive collision with an extraterrestrial object, such as an asteroid or comet. This event is believed to have occurred around 66 million years ago, coinciding with the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs.

How was the Shiva Crater discovered?

The Shiva Crater was identified through geological and geophysical surveys that revealed a distinct, circular basin structure beneath the Indian Ocean. It was proposed as an impact crater by Dr. Sankar Chatterjee, who noticed its unique features that were consistent with known impact sites, such as a central peak and an outer ring.

How large is the Shiva Crater, and why is it significant?

The Shiva Crater is estimated to be about 500 kilometers in diameter, making it one of the largest known impact structures on Earth. Its significance lies in its potential connection to the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which saw the demise of approximately 75% of Earth's species, including the non-avian dinosaurs.

What evidence supports the impact theory for the Shiva Crater?

Evidence supporting the impact theory includes the presence of shocked quartz and high concentrations of iridium—an element more common in asteroids than in the Earth's crust. These findings suggest a violent impact event, consistent with the characteristics of known craters formed by extraterrestrial collisions.

Is there a consensus in the scientific community about the Shiva Crater's origin?

There is ongoing debate within the scientific community regarding the Shiva Crater's origin. While some researchers support the impact hypothesis, others suggest alternative explanations such as volcanic activity. Further research and analysis are needed to reach a consensus on its formation.

What role did the Shiva Crater play in the Earth's history?

If the Shiva Crater is indeed an impact site, it may have played a crucial role in Earth's history by triggering the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event. The resulting environmental changes from the impact, such as massive tsunamis, wildfires, and a "nuclear winter" effect, could have led to the rapid decline of many species.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon321908 — On Feb 25, 2013

There is not yet any conclusive proof that the proposed "Shiva Crater" is a result of a bolide. Should one actually bother themselves to review the current hypothesis by Chatterjee, it is rife with "may" and "if" statements delivered as conclusions. The hypothesis that the geologic curiosity purported to be an impact site has had no new publications since 2009. In Feb 2013, new evidence was published pushing the age of the Chicxulub Crater much closer to the KT extinction event.

In short, calling the Shiva Curiosity a "crater" is, as of now, premature (i.e. "It /could/ be a duck /if/ it had feathers, a specific kind of beak, swam on water, flew with wings, quacked, came from a duck's egg, and produced baby ducks, but we're not sure of any of that. All we've got so far is a picture of a blurry outline, like photos of the Loch Ness Monster".)

By discographer — On Mar 13, 2011

I've actually seen the Deccan traps, the biggest volcanic province on earth, in Maharashtra, India. This whole area was once flooded with lava when the Deccan volcanoes erupted. They say that the Shiva crater caused the volcanic eruption which then caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The area is just huge, probably the size of two states and the soil is a reddish brown. You can just imagine the lava flowing into this basin. It's a really amazing place, I was so happy I had to chance to see it. I think it has gotten a lot of attention especially since the Shiva crater has been discovered.

By candyquilt — On Mar 11, 2011

I've read about Prof. Sankar Chatterjee's theory about the Shiva crater's impact and how it's linked with the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other species. His claims are pretty convincing because he matches the time of the creation of the crater with Deccan volcanism, formation of the Himalayas and extinction of many species.

I've read elsewhere though, that it is difficult to know the details about craters because they keep changing due to running water and winds. I know that the Professor is looking for more evidence but I'm not sure that evidence can even be counted on if craters change as dramatically and quickly as they say they do. Plus, it's been 65 million years!

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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