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Monster Meteorite Crater, 'Bigger Than Paris', Discovered in Greenland

Depending on the actual time of when the meteorite struck earth, the ramifications on life could be tremendous. Think the butterfly effect times a million.


Updated:November 15, 2018, 6:36 PM IST
Monster Meteorite Crater, 'Bigger Than Paris', Discovered in Greenland
Summer sun setting over UK. Credits: Tim Peake/ESA/NASA

Look out below!" We hope someone in Greenland yelled that out roughly 12,000 years ago, which is when a massive meteorite smashed into the planet, according to recent scientific reports.

As a result of the visitor from space, a giant crater was formed, which has been uncovered below Greenland’s ice sheets. The 31-kilometre-wide depression, discovered by an international team of scientists, is believed to have been caused by a “rare” strike.

New studies indicate that a kilometre-wide iron meteorite drove seven kilometres into the Earth’s crust. Following the smash, time and weather condition hid the crater below the thick ice of the Hiawatha Glacier in northwest Greenland.

This is the first time ever an impact crater has been found below one of Earth’s continental ice sheets. According to the Independent, scientists speculated that the impact could potentially have “drastically altered the climate and led to serious consequences for life on Earth at the time.”

The findings, unearthed (pun totally intended) by researchers from the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark and University of Copenhagen, were just published in the journal Science Advances.

The report cited Professor and lead research author Kurt H Kjær, from the Natural History Museum of Denmark, as saying: “The crater is exceptionally well-preserved and that is surprising, because glacier ice is an incredibly efficient erosive agent that would have quickly removed traces of the impact. The next step in the investigation will be to confidently date the impact. This will be a challenge because it will probably require recovering material that melted during the impact from the bottom of the structure, but this is crucial if we are to understand how the Hiawatha impact affected life on Earth.”

The dating is vital to the research as there is a staggering period of millions of years in which the meteorite could actually have struck the planet, with estimates ranging between three million to 12,000 years ago. Depending on the actual time of when the meteorite struck earth, the ramifications on life could be tremendous. Think the butterfly effect times a million.

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