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Meteor crater aerial view

Biggest asteroid crash in UK revealed by hidden crater

The biggest asteroid which is known to hit the British Isles is known to have slammed the Earth close to 1.2 billion years ago. However, experts have identified where the exact impact point may have been hidden for this whole time. The estimated spot is about 15 to 20 kilometres from the Enard Bay in the Minch Basin, between mainland Scotland and the Outer Hebrides. The study has been published in the Journal of the Geological Society.

The asteroid is expected to crash at about 65,000 kilometres per hour. There is no crater visible as of today and it is 200 meters deep in the ocean which is caked in layers and layers of sediment. The asteroid is thought to be one kilometre wide. The crater is predicted to be 13 to 14 kilometres wide and 3 kilometres deep.

Geochemist Ken Amor from the University of Oxford in the UK has said that the impact would have sent huge amounts of rolling clouds of dust and gas at several hundred degrees in all directions from the site.

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During a field trip to the Scottish Highlands, the expedition included a study of the Stac Fada Member(SFM) where they noticed strange green blobs in the rock. These blobs are a sign that an asteroid strike took place. The samples were taken to the lab and were identified to be quartz crystals and metals like platinum and palladium which are well known as meteorite metals.

The team also analyzed the rock patterns as well as the orientation of the magnetic grains in the geographical area to pinpoint the area of the original site of the crash. Amor has said that if we imagine debris flowing out of a cloud across the area, hugging the ground, then eventually the material will slow down and come to rest. The clouds at the front will stop first and the ones at the back keep pushing forward until they stop which causes an overlap of layers in the front. Events such as these are known to happen once in a million years and as often as once in every 100,000 years.

The next process would be to conduct a complete geographical survey in the Minch Basin which would confirm the results as stated by the laboratory research. The material which is excavated from a meteor crash is rarely preserved by Earth as it gets eroded very rapidly by air and water. It was a purely coincidental discovery that this rock landed in an ancient valley and sediments quickly covered it and the debris was preserved.

About the author: Kalpit Veerwal
Kalpit Veerwal is a second year Computer Science undergraduate at IIT Bombay. He is well known for being the only person to score 360/360 in JEE (Main). He is registered in the Limca Book of Records for the same. A blogger in his free time, he has also secured top ranks in various exams held in India and the world.

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