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New evidence has been discovered in Antarctica of an asteroid impact from 430,000 years ago

New evidence has been discovered in Antarctica of an asteroid impact from 430,000 years ago

Remnants of the impact were discovered in the summit of Walnumfjellet Mountain in Queen Maud Land, East Antarctica.

An international team of researchers believe that a meteor impacted Antarctica about 430,000 years ago, based off the discovery of particles on the summit of Walnumfjellet Mountain in Queen Maud Land, East Antarctica.

The team, lead by scientists from the University of Kent and Imperial College London, discovered condensation spherules on Walnumfjellet Mountain that suggests a meteor of around 100 meters in diameter impacted Antarctica around 430,000 years ago. The impact created a jet of melted and vaporized meteor material that scattered and settled over the Antarctic ice sheet. These particles are often difficult to record due to their scarcity of physical evidence.

 

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The debris was examined from the mountain by analyzing extremely small amounts of different chemical elements that comprise the
condensation spherules. The team was able to pinpoint the estimated date of the impact by studying the high nickel content and unique oxygen signatures. Study co-author Doctor Matthew Genge says that the explosion of an asteroid or comet only a few tens of meters in size at low altitude can be similar to a nuclear blast with energy measured in megatons.

These studies suggest the kind of damage that an asteroid can do. Studies of this type can help ultimately help experts prepare against future meteor impacts on the planet.

 

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