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What Made This Crater in Nicaragua?

The crater is 39 feet wide and 15 feet deep and appeared out of nowhere the evening of September 6th. Some residents of Managua, Nicaragua, reported hearing a loud boom and detected a strong burning smell that evening. Sounds like a standard meteorite impact, especially with an asteroid making a near-Earth flyby the following day, right? Not so fast, simple answer lovers!

Many experts and non-experts alike are questioning the Nicaraguan government’s report that this crater in a wooded area near the Sandino International Airport and about 1,000 feet from the Camino Real Hotel was created by a small meteorite. Why?

The crater is in a wooded area but near a populated city, major airport and large hotel.

The crater is in a wooded area but near a populated city, major airport and large hotel.

Let’s start with the fact that Managua is a city of 1.5 million people and the crater is near an international airport and a major hotel … yet no one reported seeing saw a fireball. Here’s what Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, had to say.

For something to produce a hole in the ground that big, it would have generated a very bright fireball. And nothing was reported … despite the population. So I’m very skeptical.

NASA estimated a blast of roughly the energy equivalent of 1 ton of TNT would be needed to create a crater that size. Nicaraguan officials tried to tie the event to the Pitbull asteroid 2014 RC, which flew by the Earth approximately 12 hours later, but NASA officials said it was unrelated.

Different timing, different directions.

Which brings up the next fact: there’s no scorch or burn marks in the crater, nor are there any metal or meteorite debris fragments in the hole. Humberto Saballos, a volcanologist with the Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies, speculated that a meteorite could have exploded in the air and produced a shock wave that made the crater, but there should have been a fireball. The crater is also near a Nicaraguan air force base but there were no reports of bombs or ordinance blasts.

Of course, the site is currently being guarded by the military while investigations into the cause continue.

Nicaraguan soldiers guarding the crater from ...?

Nicaraguan soldiers guarding the crater from …?

No fireball, no meteorite debris, no burn marks, no nearby active volcanoes, no methane gas bubbles, no witnesses.

So what DID made this crater in Managua?

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Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.
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