KY Meteorite Craters You Can See Today — You May Even Live in One
It occurs to me that those who know little about Kentucky geography and geology might see images of sinkholes and believe we'd been strafed with meteorites. Having the world's largest cave system beneath you tends to make that line of thinking a possibility.
Don't get me wrong. While sinkholes can be devastating--just ask the National Corvette Museum--they're also a fascinating characteristic of the Commonwealth. I took many geography classes at WKU, and the field trips were dope. And let me tell you...geography professors who work in Bowling Green sort of maintain a level of giddiness about their surroundings. They did then, anyway.
How they felt about meteorites was another matter. It never really came up. I guess if my geography classes had joined forces with my astronomy class, it might have been a topic. But none of the three recorded instances of meteorites slamming into Kentucky were near Mammoth Cave and cave country. And yes, there are craters in the Commonwealth that are still quite evident despite the accumulated overgrowth.
The Middlesboro Basin
If you live in Middlesboro--near the point where Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia meet--you live in a crater formed by a meteorite. I've been there but just thought it was a valley in the Appalachians. Well...it IS a valley, because the gigantic rock that landed there gazillions of years ago created it. But if you have a sharp eye and some knowledge of such things, you could draw your own conclusion that it's a crater from a meteorite, as explained by craterexplorer.ca by way of geologists Kenneth John Englund and John B. Roen:
Evidence of meteor impact is indicated by the structurally high and intensely shattered core, which may be the result of rebound from an impact explosion. Diminishing deformation outward from the center, a marginal syncline, and upturned beds on the periphery of the basin are also suggestive of meteor craters.
And here's a visual description of the Middlesboro Basin; just fast forward to the 2:03 mark.
Maybe you can get a better look with this drone shot from the Pinnacle near Middlesboro:
Big Sink Road
Part of this Versailles KY thoroughfare is actually a neighborhood. I learned through my search for this particular crater that it's a real estate hotspot, as well. Finding a VISUAL, however, has proven to be quite difficult. So I will refer you to the experts at the University of Kentucky who provide detailed information about this astrobleme (yes, it seems a crater of this nature is known as an "astrobleme"--new vocabulary never hurt anyone):
The Versailles structure, approximately 1 mile in diameter, is located along Big Sink Road in Woodford County, central Kentucky. This circular depression was for years thought to be a large sinkhole, but detailed mapping revealed a telltale belt of circular and radial faults, making it a possible remnant of a meteorite crater.
The highest point in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, Jeptha Knob is located just outside of Shelbyville KY. Once thought to be what's know as a "cryptovolcanic bump" (in a state not exactly known for its volcanic activity), the knob is now believed to be left over from a meteorite strike. I guess it IS odd that the highest point in Kentucky's Bluegrass region is the result of a meteorite impact, but, sure enough, it is.
These fascinating geological features really do exemplify just how short a time we humans spend on this planet, don't they? Absolutely amazing.
And the next time you're near any of them, look at how you'll be able to impress your friends. Seriously, how often do you get to use "cryptovolcanic" in a sentence?