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Vredefort Crater cross-section: This cross-section shows the structure of the Vredefort Impact Crater at a time shortly after it was formed.
The rocks of the Witwatersrand Basin, Ventersdorp Lava, Ghaap Dolomite, and Pretoria Subgroup were originally deposited in a nearly horizontal position but were folded and deformed by the impact.
It provides critical evidence of the Earth’s geological history and is crucial to understanding of the evolution of the planet.
Despite the importance of impact sites to the planet’s history, geological activity on the Earth’s surface has led to the disappearance of evidence from most of them, and Vredefort is the only example to provide a full geological profile of an astrobleme below the crater floor.
The impact of a dense object at that velocity would have vaporized tens of cubic kilometers of rock in an energy-intensive explosion.
The intent is to develop legislative, social, and physical provisions that will conserve and manage this unique natural history site for education and scientific study.
The dotted line marks the approximate location of the original crater rim, which has been obscured by erosion in the northwest and covered by sediments in the southeast.
The feature marked "Vredefort Dome" is an area of uplifted strata in the center of the crater.
With an estimated original diameter of 300 kilometers, the Vredefort Impact Crater is the largest asteroid impact structure that still has visible evidence at Earth's surface.
It is also the second-oldest impact structure with visible evidence at Earth's surface. A core of basement granite marks the center of the Vredefort Crater.
In a complex crater, a central uplift is formed in the instant after the impact, when the material in the bottom of the crater attempts to return to a state of gravitational equilibrium. Impact craters range from small simple craters to larger complex craters.