Scientists have dubbed a newly-discovered crater the “Dinosaur Killer’s Cousin”, estimating the meteorite could have hit Earth around the same time as the asteroid that wiped out prehistoric life millions of years ago.
The hidden impoact site was found more than 300m below the seabed, roughly 400km off the coast of Guinea in west Africa.
Dr Uisdean Nicholson of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, has dubbed the incredible find the “Nadir Crater”.
With a diameter of 8.5km, it’s is probable the asteroid that caused it was a just short of half a kilometre in diameter.
“These surveys are kind of like an ultrasound of Earth. I‘ve spent probably the last 20 years interpreting them, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” Dr Nicholson told BBC News.
“Nadir‘s shape is diagnostic of an asteroid impact. It’s got a raised rim surrounding a central uplift area, and then layers of debris that extend outwards.”
The asteroid that created the Chicxulub Crater — the impact that is said to have wiped out the dinosaurs — in the Gulf of Mexico is estimated to have been roughly 12km across and changed planet Earth forever.
The impact created a massive 200km-wide depression, sparking a series of earth tremors and tsunamis, while also setting fire to a large portion of the planet.
In comparison, the effects from a Nadir-sized asteroid would have been smaller, but not insignificant.
“Our simulations suggest this crater was caused by the collision of a 400m-wide asteroid in 500-800m of water,” Dr Veronica Bray of the University of Arizona said.
“This would have generated a tsunami over one kilometre high, as well as an earthquake of Magnitude 6.5 or so.
“The energy released would have been around 1,000 times greater than that from the January 2022 eruption and tsunami in Tonga.”
Dr Nicholson said the effects of the Chicxulub impact would have been at least 10 million times greater.
Originally published as Massive asteroid crater left by ‘dinosaur killer’s baby cousin’ discovered
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