Swiss scientists have found perfectly round craters at the bottom of Lake Neuchâtel, the largest being nicknamed “Crazy Crater,” The Daily Mail is reporting.
Researchers surveying the bottom of the Swiss lake unexpectedly found four perfectly round craters this week. The largest, dubbed “Chez-le-Bart” (Crazy Crater), is 525 feet wide and 100 feet below the surface of the lake.
Anna Reusch, a geologist who is part of the Swiss team that found the “crazy craters,” says she was startled by the discovery.
“I’ll remember this day for a long time. I never expected anything like this. It just goes to show that even in the 21st century, there are still thrilling and exciting discoveries to be made in Switzerland. The craters were so interesting that we simply had to take a closer look at this phenomenon.”
The Swiss craters are, in fact, essentially freshwater springs, although they’re covered with mud and sediment, according to the journal Physics. Reusch and her team believe that water from the nearby Jura Mountains seeps into the ground, making its way underneath the lake over the millenia, then erupting through the mud and muck.
“In other words, these craters are in fact springs.”
The Swiss researchers estimate that the craters have erupted at least four times over the last 12,000 years. Crazy Crater is estimated to have last erupted 1,600 years ago. Researchers are still not clear on what causes the infrequent eruptions; Reusch says more research is needed.
“Researching the dynamics of the craters requires long-term monitoring to keep an eye on the water level of the suspension in the crater.”
The Swiss craters are remarkable partly because of their strange shapes. Although similar craters are frequently discovered on the ocean floor, they lose their shape rather quickly due to ocean currents, erosion, and sediment collapsing in on itself. The Swiss craters, sitting at the bottom of a freshwater lake devoid of currents, have retained their perfectly round shape throughout the millenia.
Lake Neuchâtel is a popular tourist destination in Switzerland, according to Switzerland Tourism.
“At 38 kilometres (23.6 miles) in length and 8 kilometres (5 miles) in width, the Lac de Neuchâtel is the largest lake contained entirely within Swiss borders. Neuchâtel township, built in yellow Jurassic limestone, lies on the north-western shore of the lake and is the largest town of the region. The medieval town centre, with its many cafés and restaurants, shopping opportunities and numerous theatres and museums, imparts a French charm and beckons visitors to stroll.”
It is unclear, as of this post, what effect, if any, Crazy Crater’s next eruption would have on the Swiss towns built along the lake.