The largest meteor crater of the British Isles has been found on the bottom of the sea between the islands of Scotland and the Outermost Hebrides, according to the online edition of The Guardian, a British newspaper.
Researchers at the University of Oxford and Aberdeen found signs of a rough collision in a fieldwork in Scotland in 2008, but it was only recently found that the asteroid was crashing.
Near Ullapool in the north-west of Scotland, stones have been explored, telling us that an approximately 1600-meter-wide object collapsed into the Minch River, about 10 kilometers west of Lochinver.
The 61,000-kilometer-per-hour impact, which cut 19 kilometers of crater into the soil, was 1.2 billion years ago when life was mostly in the oceans and even plants did not root on land.
At that time, today’s Scotland was near the Equator and its climate was dry.
“The impact has caused huge swirling dust and gas clouds in all directions,” said Ken Amor, chief author of the Oxford Research Journal, the Journal of the Geological Society.
The crater is now 200 meters below the water and covered with sediment.
The first signs were found in the Scottish Highlands during more than ten years of geological fieldwork. On the last day of the tour, they stopped in a small village called Stoer to examine an unusual stone formation.
Earlier it was believed that the striking red sandstone was of volcanic origin, but Amor noticed that the “strange green bubbles” of the stone were reminiscent of an impact crater built into the city of Nördlingen in Bavaria.
The samples were taken to Oxford, where evidence was found of an asteroid’s first impact: the quartz crystals were deformed by the force of the collision.
Many platinum and palladium have also been detected in the sample, which are characteristic of meteorites.
Then Amor and his colleagues began to follow the crater. Its location is determined by three independent technologies. With further research, we may be able to bring the object back to a family of asteroids circulating around the Sun today.