“How Did Those Rocks Get Up There? Exploring Lake Smerdyachee, Russia ” with Dallas Abbott (18 Apr 2015)

by | Jul 25, 2023 | Impact Craters, Uncategorized

Originally presented 18 Apr 2015



There are many lakes in the heartland of Russia, most formed by the work of glaciers or karst processes. These tend to be shallow and asymmetric. But there are also deep, round lakes with partial or complete rims. Could these be the result of impact cratering? Known impact structures that are less than 500 meters in diameter are typically Holocene in age, with a few Quaternary outliers. Research leads to estimates that impacts producing a crater 500 meters in diameter may occur somewhere on Earth about once every 190 years. If all of the proposed craters in European Russia (surface area 3.69 million sq. km.) were Holocene in age, we would expect the average terrestrial impact rate would produce one crater every 24,000 years–that is, one or no craters in that area during all of Holocene time.

But there are seven lakes in European Russia which are 500 meters or less in diameter that are suspected as possible impact craters. One of these is Lake Smerdyachee, about 140 km east of Moscow. Surrounding the lake are rocks that do not seem to belong where they are found.

Thus, we have three possibilities: 1) all are impact craters, and the absence of Pleistocene glaciation in this area has preserved numerous pre-Holocene impact structures; 2) at most one or two of these are impact craters; and 3) the Holocene impact rate was higher than the long-term average.

Dallas Abbott is working with colleagues from Russia and elsewhere to try to resolve these questions through field and laboratory studies.

Figure 1.  Regional map of European Russia (red square in inset map on top right). Red circles: Major cities. Green circles: Round or elliptical deep lakes (possible impact lakes) in European Russia.  Red arrow points to Lake Smerdyachee-a proposed impact lake. Lake Smerdyachee is part of a cluster of 9 possible impact lakes. Six are 200 to 500 meters in diameter.  Lake Svyatovskoje is also ~200 to 500 meters in diameter.  Lake Svetloyar is a proposed impact lake that is slightly more than 500 meters in diameter.


Related Scientific Research

The Smerdyachee Lake: A Possible Impact Crater Near Moscow, Russia.

The Smerdyachee Lake, Probable Ancient Impact Crater Discovered Near Moscow – Blast Was As Large As 10 Hiroshimas

Update: On 1 Sep, Dallas provided a “Report from the Field” about this summer’s investigations that could be the basis for Google Earth-based learning activities.
Message from Dallas Abbott from her field station at Lake Smerdyachee

Special Feature connected with Lake Svetloyar:

Legends of a lost or sunken city around Lake Svetloyar go back to medieval times. However it wasn’t until the 1700s that the legend of Kitezh as we know it first appeared in print in a book called the Kitezh Chronicle. The book is anonymous but it was written by a member of the Old Believers. The Old Believers are a sect of Russian Orthodox Christianty that are actually still around today.In the story of Kitezh are numerous religious themes:the hidden glory of G-d’s Kingdom; the invisible pious; the terrible wonder of G-d for the unbelievers, who cannot take the beautiful and unearthly sounds of Kitezh’s bells and music emanating from the lake; the journey of the spiritual pilgrim to an unseen and unknown land of glory. The legend of Kitezh was made into an opera by Russian musical Master Rimsky-Korsakov and is considered by many, especially within Russia, to be his finest opera. You may if you wish watch an entire production of it right here: https://steampunkopera.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/the-legendary-sunken-city-of-kitezh/#

Selected Related Classroom Activities

NASA Educational Resources: “Impact Craters”NASA “Exploring the Moon–Impact Craters”
NASA “The Scientific Method: An Investigation of Impact Craters”NASA Jet Propulsion Lab: “Creating Craters”

Dr. Dallas Abbott has provided Earth2Class participants with enjoyable descriptions of her evolving research investigations for more than a decade.

Click to view earlier Dallas_Abbott_E2C_Presentations.