Pretend, for a moment, that you’re a massive scientific anomaly. A mystery even. One that has been able to relax, unencumbered by the responsibility of providing answers for the scientific community at large for the better part of the last literal million years. Just existing, minding your own business, maybe aware that people are looking for you but on the whole unbothered by it, content in your non-discovery, potentially even relishing in it.
Then imagine that one day you hear whisperings that a team of scientists is planning to drill deeper into the lava bed you’ve ensconced yourself beneath in an attempt to blow your cover wide open and reveal your location to the entire planet. I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty pissed.
Well, that’s exactly what’s happening to this 800,000 year old crater in the earth that scientists believe they’ve found buried under a volcanic field in southeastern Laos, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The crater was a result of a “monster space rock” that “struck the Earth hard and fast” and apparently scattered its debris across 10% of the earth’s surface. I don’t know about you, but it kind of feels like if something comfortable with making that grand of an entrance wanted to be found it would have no problem letting us know. Poking around for centuries just feels kind of rude.
Besides the intrusiveness of the search, there’s also been a lot of commentary regarding the crater’s size, which is allegedly over a mile wide 300 feet deep. Further corroborating the evidence the crater was probably just hoping to wait out the lifespan of the earth in peace, Australian planetary scientist Aaron Cavosie noted, “That’s a very difficult size hole to make go away.” (Which, coincidentally, is something I recently overheard someone say at The Abby in West Hollywood). My takeaway from Cavoise’s statement is, if the crater wanted to be found, it would be.
I mean, I’m all for the pursuit of scientific discovery which I guess is important, but I do wonder if stripping the agency away from this massive hole in the ground is what’s best. Sure, it dropped some hints in the form of tektites (gorgeous pieces of glass resulting from super heated rock that were scattered across three continents) and proximal ejecta (fractured quartz grains found in a patch of sandstone 12 miles away from the volcanic field and also a great drag name), but dropping hints doesn’t necessarily equal an invitation discovery is all I’m saying.
The silver lining for fans of crater privacy everywhere is that Cavosie doesn’t think the new study proves unquestionably that the volcanic field is the definite location of the crater, but rather that “it’s a great lead on a new site worthy of investigation.” Listen, I’m not rooting against scientific discovery here, which I am absolutely in favor of - I’m just rooting for this gargantuan ancient mystery hole, which I am more in favor of.