In a recent news release by the University of Queensland’s Geothermal Energy Center of Excellence, researcher Tonguc Uysal may have very well likely discovered a crater that signifies the remnants of a huge asteroid impact that may have occurred nearly 300 million years ago. Located in the Cooper Basin situated in the south Australian outback, the geothermal site is the place where Uysal has conducted his studies for years and is now the place to which he can link his groundbreaking discovery. The implications of the find are vitally important to those researching Australian geology: the asteroid strike, which produced a shock zone that spanned a whopping eighty kilometers in diameter, is very well likely the second-largest asteroid ever found across the continent. The site was buried under sedimentary rocks, therefore rendering it practically invisible to satellite images and the human eye. So how did Uysal go about making such a discovery if it couldn’t be seen on the surface? By observing the unusual planar deformation features of the quartz grains in the sedimentary rock, he realized that one of two things must’ve happened: either the rock had been exposed to extreme tectonic pressure or there had been a great impact impressed on it by an asteroid collision. The disturbances in the rock were confirmed to be a result of an asteroid strike after researchers subjected the quartz grains to further testing, using microscopic examination of the crystals to see that the force that deformed these grains was not tectonic. So what really happened on impact when the asteroid struck hundreds of millions of years ago? Uysal predicts that the asteroid triggered a large explosion, caused the groundwater to boil, and then produced specific chemical and mineralogical changes in the rocks. He supports this theory with the idea that Cooper Basin is geothermally-rich today because evidence shows that alterations have occurred in the rock at different points in time, proving that the asteroid strike definitely could’ve exerted a huge impact on the chemical compositions of the area today. Uysal believes that the original crater must have already eroded away, and the sedimentary rock has formed in its place thanks to weathering and deposition over the ages. This find is second only to that of Woodleigh, situated east of the Shark Bay in western Australia. That strike was measured to have a shock zone that spanned 120 kilometers, with the crater itself ranging anywhere from six to twelve kilometers across. Because of his finds, Uysal is preparing to present the results of his research at the Australian Geothermal Energy Conference, and has recently been awarded an extra investment of money to continue his studies in the Cooper Basin region. As we continue to dig up facts about the past, it’s amazing to think about how much geology, like humans, has evolved and how much it continues to naturally change.