The Second Largest Impact in Australia

Just recently, scientists discovered the second largest asteroid impact to ever occur in Australia. While scientists were conducting a study for the government on whether hot rocks could be used as a clean source of energy, this was their other discovery.  According to research conducted on the site,  it is estimated that the meteorite was between 5-7.5 miles long.  The size of the meteor created a shock zone that was almost 80 km wide and the crater that formed was likely to be 1,700 feet deep.  The impact most likely occurred over 300 million years ago.  How might they know that it was indeed a meteorite if the impact occurred over 300 MYO you ask? The answer is that scientists found that there were unusual planar deformations on the quartz.  This led them to realize that the rocks had to have been either exposed to extreme tectonic pressure or a large meteorite landing. Under microscopic analysis, it was proven that it was due to the meteorite.  Whether it was only one meteorite that landed or several still needs further investigation.

In geology class we have learned about the changes that occur to rocks in different environments.  I would say it is one of the important things to know about geology in fact.  When this meteorite struck we are left to wonder what happened to the rock due to the immense heat from the explosion.  Fortunately, the scientists predicted this question and had an answer ready.  The explosion from the meteorite caused the ground water to boil creating changes chemically and in mineralogical ways.  The impact could, therefore, have led to the reason why the Cooper Basin is such a rich area for geothermal energy.  Unfortunately, time is against us in making this study easy.  Layers upon layers of sedimentary rocks are now above where the impact zone occurred.  Scientists had to drill holes into the ground to collect samples of the area.  This actually allowed them to know the size of the shock zone.

The largest meteorite to even hit Australia was six to 12 kilometers across and created an impact zone that was 120 kilometers across.   This impact occurred over 360 million years ago.

Can you really picture that? An impact like that would take out a whole city! That event is something straight out of a Sci-Fi movie and I would rather not be around if it occurs again.  The geologic damages are not the only side-effect that one needs to consider.  I am curious to know what environmental effects it had on the surrounding area besides the geothermal energy studied here.

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