They found unprecedented craters on Earth that may have been formed as a result of a meteor impact before the rise of the dinosaurs

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Feb 16 2022 12:49 GMT

These structures are common on the Moon or Mars, but so far they have not been found on planets with such dense atmospheres as Earth.

An international team of geologists has discovered dozens of small secondary craters in the United States that could have been caused by a meteorite impact millions of years before the first dinosaurs appeared, according to a study published In the Bulletin of the Geological Society of America.

Researchers describe the discovery area, in southwestern Wyoming, as a field of secondary craters, which are structures formed from material ejected from a larger crater. Scientists estimated that the main crater in the study originated from a meteorite impact about 280 million years ago.

Secondary craters are common on the Moon or Mars, but so far they have not been found on Earth and other planetary bodies with a dense atmosphere. “Here, for the first time, we provide evidence that a secondary crater was possible on Earth, and we reconstruct the physical processes that led to its formation,” the study says.

How was the secondary drilling field formed?

Geologists have documented 31 craters with a diameter of between 10 and 70 meters, while about 60 more structures are awaiting confirmation. At the moment, researchers have not yet found the location of the main crater, which will be the subject of future investigations.

The meteor that caused it was between 2 and 3 kilometers in diameter, and after hitting the Earth’s surface, it could have generated a huge ball of fire, throwing the incandescent material into a radius of up to 200 kilometers. Debris flying from the main crater will then collide with the Earth at an estimated velocity of between 700 and 1,000 meters per second.

Record of the oldest dinosaurs in what is now North America Begins During the Upper Triassic, about 225 million years ago, so the meteorite impact indicated in the study would have occurred about 50 million years ago.

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