|Diameter||52 km (32 mi)|
|Age||376.8 ± 1.7 Ma|
Location of the crater in Sweden
The Siljan Ring (Swedish: Siljansringen) is a prehistoric impact crater in Dalarna, central Sweden. It is one of the 15 largest known impact craters on Earth and the largest in Europe, with a diameter of about 52 kilometres (32 mi). The impact that created the Siljan Ring occurred when a meteorite collided with the Earth's surface during the Devonian period, about 376.8 ± 1.7 Ma. This coincides around the first Devonian extinction, the Kellwasser Event or Late Frasnian extinction at 376.1 Ma ± 1.6 Ma. The effects of the impact can clearly be seen in the bedrock in the area. The Cambrian, Ordovician and Silurian sedimentary rocks deformed by the impact are rich in fossils.
The area around the Siljan Ring has been the site of recent prospecting for oil and natural gas, though none of the projects has so far been commercially viable. There are large deposits of lead and zinc near Boda at the eastern edge of the Ring.
There are several lakes in the vicinity, the largest of which is Siljan on the south-southwestern edge of the crater, with the smaller Orsa Lake to the west and Skattungen and Ore on the northeastern margin.
In Dalarna, the basement rocks consist of granites dated as 1.6 billion years old, putting them at the boundary between the Paleoproterozoic and the Mesoproterozoic. They were emplaced shortly after the Svecokarelian orogeny.
The oldest sedimentary rocks that outcrop in the Siljan area are of Ordovician age. The sequence is dominated by limestone formations with one prominent black shale, the Fjäcka Shale, which is bituminous and has generated petroleum, sourcing the oil found in limestone cavities in the same area. The Ordovician sequence is overlain by rocks of the Llandovery Series (Lower Silurian).
During the last ice age the area was covered by a thick icesheet. The bedrock was sculpted by the ice, with the softer Palaeozoic sedimentary rocks being preferentially eroded. These erosional hollows are now occupied by lakes Siljan, Orsa, Skattungen and Ore.
In accordance with theories about abiogenic petroleum (that hydrocarbons can be formed without involving material from dead plants and animals), astrophysicist Thomas Gold suggested that there might be major deposits of oil and natural gas in the area. Drilling was carried out in the late 1980s and early 1990s but proved inconclusive. Drilling for natural gas was resumed in the late 2000s and continued as of mid-2012. The scientific premise for prospecting of this sort is based on the work of physicist Vladimir Kutcherov, who is cooperating with Igrene, the company financing the drilling operations. In 2019, a study of gases and secondary minerals revealed that long-term microbial methanogenesis and methane oxidation have occurred deep within the fracture system of the crater (for at least 80 million years). and in 2021 a study revealed findings of fossilized anaerobic fungi that had lived in consortium with methanogens deep in the crater.