Tags: largest | asteroid | impact | australia

Largest Asteroid Impact in Australia: Scientists Discover Twin Gashes

By    |   Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 07:41 AM

Researchers believe they have found the site of the largest asteroid impact ever on Earth — twin gashes etched into the ground in the Australian Outback.

Andrew Glikson, of the Australian National University's School of Archaeology and Anthropology, said the impact zone was found recently during drilling connected with geothermal research near the borders of South Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.

Since the asteroid hit probably happened millions of years ago, the impact zone had been long hidden within the Earth's crust, Glikson said, adding that the rock likely split into two parts just before it hit.

The new research was published recently in the science journal Tectonophysics.

"The two asteroids must each have been over 10 kilometers across — it would have been curtains for many life species on the planet at the time," Glikson said in a statement. "Large impacts like these may have had a far more significant role in the Earth's evolution than previously thought."

The rocks around the impact zone are about 300 to 600 million years old, but researchers have not been able to find a corresponding layer of ash that would have been thrown up after the asteroids' impact, according to the BBC News.

For example, researchers said the meteorite thought to have killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago corresponded to a layer of sediment in rocks that was found around the world.

"It's a mystery — we can't find an extinction event that matches these collisions," Glikson said. "I have a suspicion the impact could be older than 300 million years."

The Australian National University release stated that scientists involved in the initial geothermal research project found evidence of the impact after drilling more than a mile into the ground. Researchers discovered traces of rocks that had been turned to glass by the extreme temperature and pressure caused by a major impact.

"There are two huge deep domes in the crust, formed by the Earth's crust rebounding after the huge impacts, and bringing up rock from the mantle below," Glikson said.

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Researchers believe they have found the site of the largest asteroid impact ever on Earth — twin gashes etched into the ground in the Australian Outback.
largest, asteroid, impact, australia
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2015-41-24
Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 07:41 AM
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