Biggest Meteorite Impact in the UK Found Buried in Water and Rock

Rodiano Bonacci
Giugno 10, 2019

The site of the largest meteorite to hit the British Isles has finally been discovered in a remote part off the Scottish coast, 11 years after scientists first identified evidence of the massive collision.

Back in 2008, scientists in the United Kingdom were working and discovered a site near Ullapool, NW Scotland that has evidence of an ancient meteor strike.

The climate would have been considerably more arid and devoid of life - 1.2 billion years ago there were no plants on the land and life still remained in the oceans. The Guardian reports that ground zero for the hit is 650 feet under the water between Scotland's mainland and the Outer Hebrides island chain, where a 12-mile-wide crater should exist where the 1-mile-wide space object crashed into the ground at 38,000mph. Writing in the Journal of the Geological Society, researchers from Aberdeen and Oxford universities believe the crater was formed about 1.2 billion years ago, and its creation likely caused quite a scene.

Dr Amor added: "The material excavated during a giant meteorite impact is rarely preserved on Earth, because it is rapidly eroded, so this is a really exciting discovery".

"It was purely by chance this one landed in an ancient rift valley where fresh sediment quickly covered the debris to preserve it".

The next step in the investigation is a detailed geophysical survey of the target area in the Minch Basin.

The team used a combination of field observations, including the distribution of broken rock fragments and the alignment of magnetic particles, to work out the probable location of the strike. But most studies suggest the impact rate was greater when Earth was younger and there was more debris - leftover from the formation of the solar system - whizzing around.

"It would have been quite a spectacle when this large meteorite struck a barren landscape, spreading dust and rock debris over a wide area", said Amor.

At the time of the meteor impact, Scotland would have been much closer to the equator than it is today.

Asteroids of the size of the one that hit the Minch are thought to strike between once every 100,000 years and once every one million years.

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