Scientists have measured how often powerful meteorites -with the potential of a nuclear bomb – smash into Earth. Professor Time Barrows, of the University of Wollongong, conducted a team that identified the period of rocks that had been farmed by a meteorite that crashed into Australia.
The crash site at Wolfe Creek Crater was much more recent than previously thought and was likely made by a 15-meter wide iron meteorite, which collapses some 120,000 years ago. Professor Barrows detailed the two systems utilized to date the rocks and stated the site was picked as it is one of the well-preserved impact sites in the world.
Meteors as powerful as a nuclear bomb hit Earth once every 180 years
He said: “The first one was to get some rocks from the crater rim which had been ejected when the meteorite hit, and this creates a fresh surface that gets exposed to radiation, and we can determine how long that exposure has been for. The second technique was to look at the dune field, which had been deflected by the crater.”
There are fewer collision sites on Earth compared to the Moon as they regularly fire up in the atmosphere, but bigger ones – which means many kilometers in length – manage to smash through every some million years. Professor Barrows also stated that the meteorites almost the same dimension as the one that collapsed on Wolfe Creek dropped more often than most people think. He added: “It looks like we’re getting at least one big meteorite – by big, more than say, 25 meters or so, every 180 years.”
Luckily, the Wolfe Creek Crater meteor is not thought to have harmed someone or destroy something when it collapsed. Moreover, Australia’s dry surface is an extraordinary place in terms of preserving meteorites, according to researchers. There’s a significant amount of meteorites that have been discovered on the Nullarbor Plain, for example.