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Mahuika crater is a submarine feature that is hypothesized to be an extraterrestrial impact crater. It is about 20 ± 2 km (12.4 ± 1.2 mi) wide and over 153 meters (502 ft) deep and lies on the New Zealand continental shelf. The Mahuika crater is named after the Māori god of fire. However, there is debate about its origins.
The crater was reported and named by Dallas Abbott and her colleagues from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. Based on elemental anomalies, fossils, and minerals, which are interpreted to be derived from the impact, found in an ice core from the Siple Dome in Antarctica, it is argued that the impact which created the Mahuika crater occurred around 1443 AD, but other sources have placed the date as 13 February 1491 AD.
Debate on the origin
In 2010 a paper was published in Marine Geology which critically analysed Abbott's claims regarding the origin of the Mahuika crater. The researchers determined that there was no evidence to indicate a comet created the crater, and therefore the possibility of an impact causing the tsunami was highly unlikely.
- Abbott, D.H., A. Matzen, E.A. Bryant, and S.F. Pekar (2003) Did a bolide impact cause catastrophic tsunamis in Australia and New Zealand? Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. 35:168.
- Abbott, D.H., P. Biscaye, J. Cole-Dai, and D. Breger, 2005, Evidence from an Ice Core of a Large Impact Circa 1443 A.D. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2005, abstract #PP31C-05.
- Goff, James, et al. (2010). "Analysis of the Mahuika comet impact tsunami hypothesis". Marine Geology 271 (3/4): 292–296. doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2010.02.020.
- Hamacher, Duane W., and Norris, Ray P. (2009). "Australian Aboriginal Geomythology: Eyewitness Accounts of Cosmic Impacts?". Archaeoastronomy 22: 62–95, pages 68–69. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014.
- Bryant, E.A., Walsh, G., and Abbott, D.H. (2007). Piccardi, L. and Masse, W. Bruce, ed. Myth and Geology. Geological Society Special Publication No. 273. London: Geological Society. pp. 203–214. ISBN 978-1-86239-216-8.
- Abstract of Geological Society of America talk by Andrew K. Matzen on tektites from Mahuika crater
- …and the Fire from Heaven 2004 article disputing Mahuika impact origin of 15th century tsunami
- Expedition hunts giant meteor by S. Collins. Newspaper article about ongoing Mahuika impact research.
- Hostile Shores:Catastrophic Events in Prehistoric New Zealand and their Impact on Maori Coastal Communities, Bruce McFadgen, 2007, Auckland University Press. ISBN 978-1-86940-390-4