Feeds

UK's biggest meteorite impact rocked Scotland

Prehistoric Ullapool enjoyed 'quite a show'

Top three mobile application threats

It's lucky for the good burghers of Ullapool in Scotland that they weren't around 1.2 billion years ago, because it was around then that the biggest meteorite ever to hit the British Isles would have made a bit of a dent in local house prices.

That's according to the combined forces of the University of Oxford and the University of Aberdeen, who say that "unusual rock formations" previously thought to have volcanic origins are actually the debris ejected from a meteorite strike which threw material over an area 50km across.

The volcanic theory has always had geologists scratching their heads, since there are "no volcanic vents or other volcanic sediments nearby". The researchers moved in for the kill by taking rock samples in 2006, and have now published their revelations in the journal Geology.

Ken Amor of Oxford Uni’s Department of Earth Sciences, explained: "Chemical testing of the rocks found the characteristic signature of meteoritic material, which has high levels of the key element iridium, normally only found in low concentrations in surface rocks on Earth. We found more evidence when we examined the rocks under a microscope; tell-tale microscopic parallel fractures that also imply a meteorite strike."

Professor John Parnell, head of Geology & Petroleum Geology at the University of Aberdeen, chipped in with: "These rocks are superbly displayed on the west coast of Scotland, and visited by numerous student parties each year. We’re very lucky to have them available for study, as they can tell us much about how planetary surfaces, including Mars, become modified by large meteorite strikes. Building up the evidence has been painstaking, but has resulted in proof of the largest meteorite strike known in the British Isles."

Amor added: "If there had been human observers in Scotland 1.2 billion years ago they would have seen quite a show. The massive impact would have melted rocks and thrown up an enormous cloud of vapour that scattered material over a large part of the region around Ullapool. The crater was rapidly buried by sandstone which helped to preserve the evidence."

The researchers hope that the evidence they've gathered will help them to "understand the ancient impacts that shaped the surface of other planets, such as Mars", Amor concluded. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.