400km-wide meteorite crater found in Australia

2015-03-23 08:23

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Sydney - An ancient meteorite crater 400km wide has been found in central Australia, scientists said on Monday.

The meteorite broke into two pieces shortly before impact, according to Andrew Glikson from the Australian National University, who led research published in the journal Tectonophysics.

"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.

Both asteroids may have been than 10km wide, and hit an area called the Warburton Basin, near the borders of South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

The meteorite slammed into Earth so long ago that the crater has since been covered by more than two kilometres of sediment and there is no sign of it on the surface, Glikson told dpa.

The impact could only be detected by drilling two kilometres down into the Earth's crust to find traces of rocks turned to glass by the enormous heat.

Surrounding rocks are between 300 million and 600 million years old, but Glikson said the impact may have occurred much earlier. At that time the Australian continent was part of Earth's massive single southern continent called Gondwana.

The impact may have caused a global annihilation of living creatures and could have played a significant role in Earth's evolution, Glikson said.

Read more on:    science  |  space

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