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Western Australia's impressive impact craters were formed hundreds of millions of years ago.

Created by meteorites that struck the earth's surface with incredible force, WA has a number of significant and world-renowned crater sites, including one of Australia's biggest. What they've left behind has given scientists a special window into our solar system.

Here are 10 of the best (and biggest) impact craters in WA.

1. Woodleigh crater, 120km

The meteorite that hit this site near Shark Bay around 364 million years ago created what is now considered one of the biggest impact craters in Australia.

It is also among the biggest in the world, though the crater itself is not exposed at the surface. An extremely rare mineral known as reidite was found buried in the Woodleigh crater in 2018.

2. Spider crater, 13km

This site was so named because, from the air, rock ridges in the crater have a spider-like shape.

The crater is estimated to have been formed some 600 to 900 million years ago. This was a period during which the Earth is believed to have gone through a series of ice ages.

The crater is near the Mount Barnett Roadhouse in the Kimberley region.

3. Yallalie Basin crater, 13km

Located between Moora and Badgingarra in the Wheatbelt, the impact date of the Yallalie Basin crater is estimated to be between 83 to 89 million years ago.

Petrol company Ampol came across the crater in 1990 during oil exploration. The surface of the crater is buried.

4. Piccaninny crater, 7km

The Piccaninny crater is located in the Purnululu National Park and is within the Bungle Bungle Range.

The meteorite that caused the crater is estimated to have impacted the Earth less than 360 million years ago. It can be seen during scenic flights over the Range.

5. Connolly Basin crater, 9km

This shallow crater in a remote region in the Gibson Desert is located near an off-road track 167km north of the Gunbarrel Highway.

The floor of the crater is 25 to 39m below the rim. The impact was believed to have occurred during the Paleogene age which began around 65 million years ago. It was first recogonised as an impact crater in 1985.

6. Goat Paddock crater, 5.1km

Found approximately 100km south-west of Halls Creek, this crater contains lake sediments from the Eocene age which began approximately 56 million years ago.

The shape of impact craters are defined as being either ‘simple’ or ‘complex’ and Goat Paddock, with its relatively steep crater walls, sits somewhere in between.

7. Wolfe Creek crater, 0.88km

Although nowhere near the biggest in WA, the Wolfe Creek crater is one of the best known, made infamous by the film Wolfe Creek.

It is estimated to be less than 300,000 years old and the meteorite that created it would have weighed about 50,000 tonnes.

Wolfe Creek Crater National Park is 145km from Halls Creek in the Kimberley region.

8. Veevers crater, 0.07km

Located in the Canning Basin in the Great Sandy Desert, Veevers is a relatively small crater but its structure is considered one of the most well preserved of all the Earth’s impact craters.

Although small in diameter, the meteorite that struck the ground here is estimated to have weighed up to 1000 tonnes.

9. Snelling crater, 0.029km

Estimated to be around 5000 years old, Snelling is a small impact crater near Wolf Creek in the Kimberley region.

The crater is difficult to see from the surface and relatively shallow. It’s located on Carranya Station and was named after the former owners of the station.

10. Shoemaker, crater 30km

The Shoemaker impact crater, formerly known as the Teague crater, is north-east of Wiluna and was formed after an extraterrestrial impact event 1.63 billion years ago, according to the Earth Impact Database.

It was renamed Shoemaker after planetary scientist Dr Eugene Shoemaker, who sadly died in a vehicle crash after a trip to the site in 1997.


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Last updated: December 2020