Crater from UK’s biggest meteorite 1.2 billion years ago discovered in Scotland

10 Juin, 2019, 21:25 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Crater from UK’s biggest meteorite 1.2 billion years ago discovered in Scotland

Evidence for the meteorite strike was discovered in 2008 near the town of Ullapool, northwest Scotland, by scientists from the University of Oxford and the University of Aberdeen.

The scientists say that the thickness and extent of the debris deposited suggested the impact crater was made by a meteorite that was 1k wide.

In a paper published today in Journal of the Geological Society, a team led by Dr Ken Amor from the Department of Earth Sciences at Oxford University, show how they have identified the crater location 15-20km west of a remote part of the Scottish coastline.

The climate would have been considerably more arid and devoid of life - 1.2 billion years ago there were no plants on the land and life still remained in the oceans.

Dr Amor said: "The material excavated during a giant meteorite impact is rarely preserved on Earth, because it is rapidly eroded, so this is a really exciting discovery". The Guardian reports that ground zero for the hit is 650 feet under the water between Scotland's mainland and the Outer Hebrides island chain, where a 12-mile-wide crater should exist where the 1-mile-wide space object crashed into the ground at 38,000mph.

"It was purely by chance this one landed in an ancient rift valley where fresh sediment quickly covered the debris to preserve it".

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"The next step will be a detailed geophysical survey in our target area of the Minch Basin", Amor said.

Using a combination of field observations and the distribution of meteor debris, the scientists were able to chart the direction and likely source of the crater.

But after 10 years of research, scientists have revealed just where the impact happened.

Scientists believe the landscape would have looked a bit like Mars at the time the meteorite struck.

The team says that Earth and the other planets had more meteorite impacts in the distant past because the planets collided with debris left from the formation of the early solar system.

Asteroids of the size of the one that hit the Minch are thought to strike between once every 100,000 years and once every one million years.

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