The best known impact crater in Mongolia is Tabun Khara Obo – well exposed, saucer-formed depression.


Diameter of this crater (between rims) is between 1,230 and 1,360 m. The circular rim is elevated above the surroundings, but it is not very distinct, with several discontinuities. Bottom of crater is located some 20 – 30 metres deeper than rims.

The age of impact is not known. Meteorite here met approximately 600 million years old Proterozoic rocks – schist, gneiss and amphibolite.

Earlier this crater was much deeper – now it is filled with up to 171 m thick layer of saline lake deposits. On top of these deposits are some metres of wind blown sand. This means that for most part of its history this crater was filled with lake – similar to Lonar crater in India and some other craters around the world.

Tabun Khara Obo from the space, August 2009
Tabun Khara Obo from the space, August 2009 / NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite, public domain

Discovery and research

It is not known with certainty when this crater was discovered but first specialists who saw it were I.T.Zotkin and V.I.Tsvetkov, who noticed this structure from air in 1960s, scientific description was done by O.Suetenko and L.Shkerin in 1970. They considered that this most likely is an impact structure.

This was proved by drilling in the centre of crater in 2008, when specialists discovered rocks metamorphized by the explosion of meteorite and having the characteristic planar deformations.


  1. О.Д. Суетенко, Л.М. Шкерин. Предполагаемый метеоритный кратер в юго-восточной Монголии. Астрономический вестник, 1970.
  2. Tsolmon Amgaa. Impact Origin of Tabun Khara Obo Crater, Mongolia, Confirmed by Drill Core Studies. 2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009).
Tabun Khara Obo on the map
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Location, GPS coordinates: 44.1310 N 109.6541 E
Categories: Impact craters
Values: Geology
Rating: 3 out of 10 stars
Where is located? Asia, Mongolia, central part of the remote Dornogovi Province, Gobi desert
Alternate names: Tabun-Khara-Obo, Tabun Khyara Obo, Tavan Har
Diameter: 1230 – 1360 m
Depth: 20 – 30 m
Age: unknown

Wonders of Mongolia

Orkhon Falls, Mongolia
Orkhon Falls / Chelsea Hicks, / CC BY 2.0

This enormous country is sparsely populated – but quite rich with natural and man made heritage. Highlights of Mongolia are:

  • Fossil finds – secluded valleys and canyons near Gobi desert are packed with fossilized bones of extinct reptiles and amphibians. State of preservation often is surprising – this was the first place in the world where dinosaur eggs were found, world famous "fighting dinosaurs" (Velociraptor and Protoceratops) were found here in 1971.
  • Rock art – thousands of cliffs, rocks and shelters in Mongolia are adorned with old drawings and etchings, often showing extinct animals – mammoths and rhinos. Unique are deer stones – standing stones adorned with intricate, fantastic designs.

Impact craters

Pingualuit crater, Canada
Pingualuit crater / NASA, Wikimedia Commons, public domain
There are many pieces of solid matter flying around in the space. And VERY frequently they fall on the surface of Earth. There are estimates that every year on Earth fall 18,000 – 84,000 meteorites larger than 10 grams: e.g. one meteorite every 6 – 30 minutes.

This category includes outstanding impact craters – detectable scars on the surface of Earth left by a body coming from outer space. Category includes also meteorites – natural objects from the outer space.

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