Image of the day: The crater left behind by the largest asteroid strike ever recorded

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Mar 24, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT (Updated)

Scientists have just discovered the crater left behind by the largest asteroid strike ever recorded. Want to see?

While drilling in Australia for a new geothermal energy project, researchers discovered some bizarre things about the rock formations in the area. Basically, a lot of the rock buried deep underground had been “shocked,” a trait common in areas hit by a larger asteroid. After doing a bit more research, the team realized they were standing inside one massive crater.

The research, recently published in Tectonphysics, posits that a massive 12+ mile meteorite split in two just before hitting the Earth and created twin impact craters that stretch almost 250 miles across the Australian countryside (before that, the largest recorded crater was Vredefort in South Africa at 236 miles). As Popular Science notes, the massive craters weren’t actually spotted until now because millions of years of natural growth (new rock formations, soil deposits, etc.) had essentially covered them up.

Lead researcher Andrew Glikson noted the impact left behind “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.” Researchers are now working to determine the exact age of the impact. Nothing is definitive, but Glikson said he believes it could be more than 300 million years old.


(Via Popular Science)