Feeds

Ancient Earth asteroid strike that dwarfed dinosaur killer still felt today

Massive space rock impact may have set the continents sliding

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Scientists say they have reconstructed an asteroid impact on Earth that was at least three times as massive as the strike that is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs and the new monster had effects that are still being felt today.

Asteroid impact

A massive headache for Earth (click to enlarge)

The research, published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, studied the formation of a geological formation known as the Barberton greenstone belt in South Africa. By analyzing the formations, and using out understanding of physics and seismology, the scientists behind the paper think they have found evidence of a massive impact between 3.23 billion and 3.47 billion years ago.

The impacting body, which could have been an asteroid or a comet, was between 37 and 58 kilometers (23 to 36 miles) wide and hit the Earth at 20 kilometers per second (12 miles per second). The impact would have caused a crater around 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) across and the resulting tsunamis would have been thousands of meters high.

"We can't go to the impact sites. In order to better understand how big it was and its effect we need studies like this," said Donald Lowe, a geologist at Stanford University and a co-author of the study. "We knew it was big, but we didn't know how big."

The effects on the planet were reportedly spectacular. The impact would have set off a planet-wide firestorm, evaporating the surface of the Earth's oceans and causing earthquakes over 10.8 on the Richter scale that lasted over half an hour, and triggered more seismic activity across the globe.

The impact would have wiped out many of the species in existence at the time, allowing others to take over – much as the loss of the dinosaurs helped mammals grow to become one of the dominant species on the planet. It could also be responsible for shifting the planet's tectonic plate system into a higher gear.

"This is providing significant support for the idea that the impact may have been responsible for this major shift in tectonics," said Frank Kyte, a geologist at UCLA. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.