By Man or Nature, Places That Will Never Be the Same

Jun 6, 2013 by



By: Terrell Johnson
Published: May 16, 2013

Newmont Mine, Indonesia


The giant Newmont mine on Sumbawa Island, Indonesia.

If you had any doubts that we’re living in a new age called the Anthropocene – the term geologists have begun to use to describe our era, as defined by the impact humans are leaving on the planet – then a look at the hundreds of cavernous open-pit mining operations scattered across the Earth’s surface ought to be convincing.

But human hands haven’t been the only ones scoring the planet’s face. Massive meteors have punctured our atmosphere many times in the past, leaving behind craters more than a dozen miles wide in some cases.

We took a look at some of the biggest holes in the ground and craters around the planet, and in the process unearthed some fascinating places.

Udachnaya Pipe, Russia


A view into the pit of Russia’s Udachnaya Pipe.


Mountaintop Mine, West Virginia




A mountaintop coal mining operation in West Virginia, where explosives are used to remove up to 1,000 vertical feet of rock to get to the coal.

The photos above and below show coal mining operations in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, where what companies refer to as “surface mining operations” is labeled differently by its critics: “mountaintop removal mining.”

Whatever the label, it’s difficult to deny the impact on the surrounding environment. Since the practice became widespread in the 1960s and 1970s, some 500 mountains and at least 1,200 miles of streams have been destroyed across the Appalachians, among the oldest mountain ranges on Earth.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Shoemaker Crater, Australia

U.S. Department of the Interior

Australia’s Shoemaker Crater, as seen from space.

Named for the American geologist Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, the crater known today as the Shoemaker Impact Structure is much easier to make out from space than from the ground, as its edges have gradually worn away over the estimated 1.63 billion years since a meteor slammed into the desert of Western Australia.

The impact site, which stretches about 19 miles across, today is filled with several lakes and ponds, some of which are filled with sediments that turn the water various shades of gold, orange and reddish brown.

NEXT: The world’s biggest gold mine >


See the entire slideshow here...

1 Comment

  1. While reading this article, I am beginning to daydream about the Ents attacking the Isengard.
    (Isengard = Coal & Oil & Wood industries)

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