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Scientists Shoot Down Meteorite Theory in Antarctica Crater Mystery

A mysterious crater discovered in East Antarctica last month likely formed beneath a leaky meltwater lake, rather than because of a meteorite impact, researchers now think.

The ring of sunken ice, nearly 2 miles (3 kilometers) wide, was spotted a few days before Christmas on the Roi Baudoin Ice Shelf in East Antarctica, north of Belgium's Princess Elisabeth research station. At first, German researchers suspected a meteorite blasted out the crater, because a space rock exploded over East Antarctica in 2004.

However, after the find was announced in early January, scientists gathered on social media and immediately shot down the meteorite hunch. "It was like a virtual coffee table conversation," Olaf Eisen, a glaciologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, said of the online discussion. "Real coffee table conversations are difficult for glaciologists, because there aren't that many of us and we're spread all over the world. In this case, social media was the solution," he told Live Science. [Video: Mystery Antarctic 'Crater' Could Be House-Sized Meteor Blast]

Antarctica Ice Sheet Is Disintegrating 0:35