A mega asteroid measuring as much as 19 miles wide, struck the Earth over three billion years ago triggering earthquakes, tsunamis and likely boiling the oceans according to evidence recently discovered in Australia.
Discovery of glass beads show massive “mega-asteroid” impact
The glass beads, or spherules, were discovered in northwestern Australia and were likely the result of the second largest asteroid impact on Earth and were formed my the vaporized materials of the asteroid upon its impact with our planet.
Dr Glikson and Dr Arthur Hickman from Geological Survey of Western Australia found these glass beads in a drill core from the Marble Bar which is one of the oldest layers of sediment in the world.
“The impact would have triggered earthquakes orders of magnitude greater than terrestrial earthquakes,” said aid Dr Andrew Glikson from The Australian National University (ANU) speaking to the scientists discovery that was recently detailed in the journal Precambrian Research.
“It would have caused huge tsunamis and would have made cliffs crumble.
Material from the impact would have spread worldwide. These spherules were found in sea floor sediments that date from 3.46 billion years ago,” the doctor continued.
While the scientists were able to effectively measure the rough size of the asteroid and its effects on the planet, they still don’t know where the impact occurred.
“Exactly where this asteroid struck the Earth remains a mystery,” Dr Glikson said.
“Material from the impact would have spread worldwide,” Glikson said. “These spherules were found in seafloor sediments that date from 3.46 billion years ago.”
“Any craters from this time on Earth’s surface have been obliterated by volcanic activity and tectonic movements,” he continued.
While NASA and others continue to scan the skies aware of the dangers that a large-scale strike would create, the B612 Foundation recently reported that it believes that the Earth is 10 times more vulnerable to a strike than earlier thought.
Studies of the Marble Bar
The Marble Bar was at one point of time on the ocean floor and allows for exceptionally accurate dating owing to two volcanic layers that preserved the sediment.
Dr Donald Lowe from Stanford University in California and Dr Gary Byerly from Louisiana State University published their own findings in the journal Geology last year detailing suggestions that the Earth could have been a “giant boiling hot spring” about 3.25 billion years ago owing to a asteroid strike that superheated the Earth’s atmosphere.
But, this new study suggests that this impact may have occurred a bull 500 millions later.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve only found evidence for 17 impacts older than 2.5 billion years, but there could have been hundreds,” said Dr. Glikson.
“Asteroid strikes this big result in major tectonic shifts and extensive magma flows. They could have significantly affected the way the Earth evolved,” he added.
The scientists are certain that the glass bead they found were a result of a massive asteroid striking earth as they were made up of platinum, chromium and nickel, the same chemical composition of the interior of asteroids that have been studied in the past.
While scientists keep a pretty good eye on asteroids that could get uncomfortably close to Earth, there is a reason that NASA would like to land on an asteroid and practice changing its direction following a landing in a potential precursor for an emergency response to an asteroid headed close to Earth.