The Yarrabubba Crater is our planet’s oldest asteroid impact site.
It measures 70-kilometer (44 miles) in diameter and was triggered by a giant asteroid that smashed into what is now Australia over 2.2 billion years ago.
According to the new study, the meteorite impact coincides with a time when the Earth was recovering from the “Snowball Earth.” Is this a coincidence, or could the Yarrabubba impact event be an unexpected cause of global climate change?
Anyhow, Snowball Earth ended at almost the same time as the Yarrabubba impact in the outback of Western Australia, 2.229 billion years ago.
This new age calculation also confirms the crater is the world’s oldest known preserved impact structure.
Nowadays, the Yarrabubba crater is invisible with the naked eye. But based on the local geology and the size of the crater, scientists were able to determine the possible events that have occurred back then.
To create such a crater, a 7-kilometer-wide (4.3 miles) asteroid would have had to hit an ice sheet between 2-5 kilometers (1.2 to 3.1 miles) thick at 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) per second. The shock could have pushed over 100 billion tonnes of water vapor into the atmosphere. Find similar headlines on Strange Sounds and Steve Quayle. [Nature, Imperial.ac.uk]