The largest known crater to date on Earth is the Vredefort Crater in South Africa, which is more than 300 kilometers wide and formed 2.02 billion years ago.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia may now have discovered an underground impact crater from an asteroid.
Three times bigger than a dinosaur killer
in Research article in the Journal of Tectonic Physics They describe the possibility of an impact crater 520 kilometers in diameter.
The crater is believed to be located under millions of years old sediments in South Australia in the state of New South Wales near the town of Deniliquin.
The asteroid that created the crater hit the Earth 420 million years ago. Scientists believe that the collision caused a new ice age and led to the extinction of about 85% of living organisms on Earth.
When asteroids hit the Earth, they create a crater with a raised core – a kind of dome. Some are visible on the surface, while others are eventually buried by sediments deep below the surface and eroded over time.
The latter is the case with the new crater, making it difficult to identify, for example, from satellite images.
In the years between 1995 and 2000, researchers first found signs of magnetic patterns beneath the region in New South Wales, which was supported by new geophysical data from the years between 2015 and 2020.
These confirmed that there was a structure 520 kilometers long and in the middle of it there was a dome resembling a crater.
However, not everyone is convinced by the new theory.
Professor Lewis Morrissey from the Australian National University believes the structure could have formed from two land masses that collided and created something similar to a mountain range.
“They haven’t convinced me yet, but they have some good arguments,” he adds. Letters of News.
To get conclusive evidence of this, researchers would have to drill deep into the crater area, which is currently technologically impossible.
The researchers believe that if this turns out to be true, it would be an important new piece in the evolution of life on Earth.
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