Evidence Of Giant Earth-Shaking Asteroid Discovered In Australia

Posted: May 17 2016, 5:01am CDT | by , Updated: May 17 2016, 9:22pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Evidence of Giant Earth-Shaking Asteroid Discovered in Australia
Credit: Andrew Glikson

Scientists believe that a massive asteroid slammed into the Earth around 3.8 billion years ago and if it did, it would have left a crater hundreds of kilometers wide.

Scientists have found strong evidence that a massive asteroid slammed into the Earth in its earlier life and its impact was so powerful that mankind has not experienced anything like that before or since.

“The impact would have triggered earthquakes orders of magnitude greater than terrestrial earthquakes, it would have caused huge tsunamis and would have made cliffs crumble.” That is what Dr. Andrew Glikson from the Australian National University have concluded after examining tiny glass beads known as spherules. These glass beads were recovered from north-western Australia and were supposedly formed when vaporized material from the asteroid impact converted into solid form. 

Scientists estimate that the giant asteroid hit the Earth about 3.8 to 3.9 billion years ago, making it the second oldest known and one of the massive asteroid collisions in the history of the world. The Earth itself is just over 4.5 billion years old and these tiny beads could provide more insight into the evolutionary history of planet.

“Asteroid strikes this big result in major tectonic shifts and extensive magma flows. They could have significantly affected the way the Earth evolved.”Dr. Glikson said. 

Analysis further suggests that the asteroid was around 20 to 30 kilometers across and would have left a crater hundreds of kilometers wide when it slammed into the Earth.  However, scientists are unsure what the exact location of the impact was. Though, tiny beads are found in the sea floor sediments of north Western Australia but they are not exclusive to the sight. Scientists suspect that these tiny beads would have spread worldwide, making it difficult to gauge where the impact was actually took place. 

The finding reflects rigorous efforts of Australian National University scientists who spend 20 years in finding the remains of asteroid impact. Testing also verified that the glass beads came from asteroid since these fragments contain the similar levels of elements such as platinum, nickel and chromium that are found in asteroids. 

This asteroid impact could possibly be the forerunner of hundreds of more similar impacts which took place earlier in the life of Earth, but no evidence of them had been found yet. Another recent research also reveals the oldest pieces of rocks on Earth which were formed around 4 billion years ago.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Glikson. “We’ve only found evidence for 17 impacts older than 2.5 billion years, but there could have been hundreds.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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