A mysterious crater appeared in the capital of Nicaragua Managua after earth-shaking explosion there on 6th of September, 2014
Description of the crater and circumstances of origin
MANAGUA, Nicaragua – A mysterious explosion that rocked Nicaragua’s crowded capital Managua, creating a large crater, appears to have been caused by a meteorite, officials said Sunday, on 7th of September 2014.
The loud explosion occurred around 11 p.m. on Saturday, 6th of September 2014, on the outskirts of Managua near the airport.
Amazingly, in a sprawling city of 1.2 million people, the impact site in woodland less than 1000 ft ( 304 meteres ) from the hotel of the international airport, did not cause any known injuries, but it did leave a crater measuring 12 meters (39 feet) across and a depth of 5 meters (16 feet).
“We are convinced that this was a meteorite. We have seen the crater from the impact,” said Wilfredo Strauch of the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies.
The meteorite appeared to have hurtled into a wooded area near the airport around midnight Saturday, its thunderous impact felt across the capital.
The hit was so large that it registered on the instruments Strauss’ organization uses to size up earthquakes.
“You can see two waves: first, a small seismic wave when the meteorite hit Earth, and then another stronger one, which is the impact of the sound,” he said.
Strauch said that Nicaragua is asking the United States for expert help to investigate the event, which was picked up by seismic sensors.
"All the evidence that we've confirmed on-site corresponds exactly with a meteorite and not with any other type of event," said Jose Millan, also from Ineter.
"Firstly, we have the seismic register which coincides with the time of impact, and the typical characteristic that it produces a cone in the place of impact."
Strauch said they had not been able to determine the composition of the supposed meteorite as they were not sure whether it had disintegrated on hitting ground or if it remained buried.
"We need to celebrate the fact that it fell in an area where, thank God, it didn't cause any danger to the population," Millan said.
Nicaragua has more than 20 volcanoes and is regularly shaken by earthquakes, so many locals initially thought a quake caused the loud bang.
Government officials and experts visited the impact site on Sunday.
One of them, William Martínez, said it was not yet clear if the meteorite burned up completely or if it had been blasted into the soil.
“You can see mirror-like spots on the sides of the crater from where the meteorite power-scraped the walls,” Martínez said.
Government spokeswoman, First Lady Rosario Murillo, said Managua would be in contact with the U.S. Geological Service to try to get more information about “this fascinating event” in the Central American nation, one of Latin America’s poorest countries.
People who live near the crater told local media they heard a blast they took for an explosion, and that liquid, sand and dust were blown through the air, which smelled like something had burned.
There were no reported injuries because the impact was in a wooded spot, and flights at the airport were not affected.
Did the crater originate from the impact of a chunk of meteorite flying alongside the asteroid 2014 RC ?
Humberto Garcia, of the Astronomy Center at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, said the meteorite could be related to an asteroid that was forecast to pass by Saturday night.
“We have to study it more because it could be ice or rock,” he said.
Wilfried Strauch, an adviser to the Institute of Territorial Studies, said it was “very strange that no one reported a streak of light. We have to ask if anyone has a photo or something.”
Local residents reported hearing a loud boom Saturday night, but said they didn’t see anything strange in the sky.
“I was sitting on my porch and I saw nothing, then all of a sudden I heard a large blast. We thought it was a bomb because we felt an expansive wave,” Jorge Santamaria told the Associated Press.
On the evening of Saturday September 6, a 12-meter-wide (40 foot) crater appeared near the international airport of Nicaragua’s capital Managua. The timing appeared to coincide with the passing of an asteroid called 2014 RC which safely flew past Earth on September 7,
leading many to believe that it may have been caused by a space rock impact. Local residents claim they heard a loud blast the same night, but no one saw anything.
According to Associated Press, a committee formed by the government to study the event attributed the crater to a “relatively” small meteorite that came off 2014 RC. However, not everyone is quite so convinced,
and outside experts have started to share their skepticism over the apparent meteoritic source of the crater.
While it’s difficult to rule out a meteorite at this stage, according to NASA, the lack of eyewitnesses strongly suggests that something else is to blame.
Arguments for the none-meteorite origin of the crater
Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, said that if a meteorite did cause the crater, it would have probably been around 1 meter (3 feet) wide. However, meteors of this size would usually appear very bright against the night sky,
and not one of the 1.5 million people living in the capital saw any flashes.
“For something to produce a hole in the ground that big, it would have generated a very bright fireball (brighter than the Full Moon). And nothing was reported… despite the population,”said Cooke. “So I’m very skeptical.”
And that’s not the only fishy feature of this situation. No meteorite fragments have been found at the scene so far. Even if the meteorite exploded in the air, producing a shockwave that carved out the crater, scientists would still expect to find remnants embedded in the soil. Furthermore,
according to NASA scientists, the explosion occurred 13 hours before the close passage of the asteroid, when it was about as far away as the Moon, suggesting they are not linked.
“For those wondering, the event in Nicaragua (poss meteorite?) is unrelated to asteroid 2014 RC. Different timing, different directions,” NASA officials tweeted.
So, unfortunately at this stage it seems there is a big question mark over this mysterious crater, but we can be fairly confident that 2014 RC is not to blame.
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