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Zerelia Lakes

One of Zerelia Lakes - Small Zerelia lake
One of Zerelia Lakes – Small Zerelia lake. / afilitos, Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

WorldBlue  In short

Many facts hint at the possibility that both Zerelia Lakes were created by a meteorite impact some 12 – 8 thousand years ago.

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GPS coordinates
39.1626 N 22.7119 E
Location, address
Europe, Greece, Thessaly, Magnesia, Almyros municipality, Efxinoupoli, some 4 km south-west from Almyros town
Name in Greek
Λίμνες Ζερέλια
Alternate names
Zarelia Lakes, Zerelia Impact Craters, Magoula Zerelia Lakes
Diameter
250 m and 150 m
Depth
8 m and 6 m
Age
˜ 12 000 – 10 000 years (?)

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

At the foot of Othrios mountain are two small, round lakes.

Great Zerelia Lake
Great Zerelia Lake. / Dipa1965, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Great Zerelia lake has a diameter of some 250 m and it is up to 8 m deep. The other – Small Zerelia – is located only 230 m to the south-east. This smaller lake has a diameter of 150 m and is up to 6 m deep. The bottom of both lakes is fairly flat and covered with muddy sediments. Specialists estimate that the original depth of the larger lake was between 50 and 60 m.

Initially (1960ies – 1970ies) it was proposed that both lakes are maars – explosion craters that are created by the blast of superheated groundwater above the areas of volcanic heat. Maars also can have a perfectly round shape.

But further research (1) shows that there is no trace of volcanic activity in the rocks around the lakes. Recrystallized and deformed glass-shaped fragments of rocks, calcite globules as well as inclusions of molten zircon, chrome spinel, and other uncharacteristic minerals show that there has taken a place a sudden increase of temperature and pressure as well as the intrusion of alien matter. Speaking in other words: this looks like a meteoritic impact.

Both lakes could be created by meteorite impact some 12 500 – 8 000 years ago. The pieces of meteorites could be 10 – 30 m large and, it is possible, that these were two pieces of a larger meteorite that divided in the atmosphere.

Nevertheless, Zerelia Lakes are unconfirmed impact craters up to now. It is highly likely that they were created by the meteoritic impact, but we are not absolutely sure yet.

Both lakes are important wetlands – habitats for birds.

Only 100 m north-east from the shore of Great Zerelia is Zerelia mound (Magoula Zerelia settlement) – site of a prehistoric settlement that was inhabited in the Middle Neolithic – Late Bronze Age. The oldest finds in this settlement are 7 thousand years old. Many people, including specialists, believe that in one of the lakes is located an ancient shrine – the temple of goddess Itonida (Athena Itona). According to legends, this temple is seen at very low water. This, reportedly, happened in 1980 after an earthquake.

References

  1. V. J. Dietrich, E. Lagios, E. Reusser, V. Sakkas, E. Gartzos, and K. Kyriakopoulos. The enigmatic Zerelia twin-lakes (Thessaly, Central Greece): two potential meteorite impact Craters. Solid Earth, received on 31st July 2013. Accessed on 19th February 2021.

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