World's largest asteroid impacts found in central Australia

A 400 kilometer-wide impact zone from a huge meteorite that broke in two moments before it slammed into the Earth has been found in Central Australia

australia-meteorFrom Australian National University:

A 400 kilometre-wide impact zone from a huge meteorite that broke in two moments before it slammed into the Earth has been found in Central Australia.

The crater from the impact millions of years ago has long disappeared. But a team of geophysicists has found the twin scars of the impacts – the largest impact zone ever found on Earth – hidden deep in the earth’s crust.

Lead researcher Dr Andrew Glikson from The Australian National University (ANU) said the impact zone was discovered during drilling as part of geothermal research, in an area near the borders of South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

“The two asteroids must each have been over 10 kilometres across – it would have been curtains for many life species on the planet at the time,” said Dr Glikson, from the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The revelation of such ancient violent impacts may lead to new theories about the Earth’s history.

“Large impacts like these may have had a far more significant role in the Earth’s evolution than previously thought,” Dr Glikson said.

The exact date of the impacts remains unclear. The surrounding rocks are 300 to 600 million years old, but evidence of the type left by other meteorite strikes is lacking.

For example, a large meteorite strike 66 million years ago sent up a plume of ash which is found as a layer of sediment in rocks around the world. The plume is thought to have led to the extinction of a large proportion of the life on the planet, including many dinosaur species.

However, a similar layer has not been found in sediments around 300 million years old, Dr Glikson said.

“It’s a mystery – we can’t find an extinction event that matches these collisions. I have a suspicion the impact could be older than 300 million years,” he said.

A geothermal research project chanced on clues to the impacts while drilling more than two kilometres into the earth’s crust.

The drill core contained traces of rocks that had been turned to glass by the extreme temperature and pressure caused by a major impact.

Magnetic modelling of the deep crust in the area traced out bulges hidden deep in the Earth, rich in iron and magnesium, corresponding to the composition of the Earth mantle.

“There are two huge deep domes in the crust, formed by the Earth’s crust rebounding after the huge impacts, and bringing up rock from the mantle below,” Dr Glikson said.

The two impact zones total more than 400 kilometres across, in the Warburton Basin in Central Australia. They extend through the Earth’s crust, which is about 30 kilometres thick in this area.

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Justthinkin
March 23, 2015 11:23 am

Well. We need a famine too.

RWturner
Reply to  Justthinkin
March 23, 2015 2:19 pm

This could be the smoking gun for the first known major extinction event at the End Ordovician about 440 m.y.a. I guess it wasn’t CO2 afterall /s.

Count to 10
Reply to  RWturner
March 24, 2015 2:58 pm

Double barreled, at that.

Bill Illis
March 23, 2015 11:25 am

Each of the asteroids was 10 kms across? Each one of these two would be more-or-less the biggest asteroids to strike Earth since the late heavy bombardment ended 3.8 billion years ago. They must have come from the pre-Cambrian period rather than as early as 300 million years ago.
http://www.passc.net/EarthImpactDatabase/Diametersort.html

Reply to  Bill Illis
March 23, 2015 1:02 pm

That was my thought as well. Australia is still a modern beneficiary of the late heavy bombardment, given the vast amount of minerals/iron etc deposited there.

high Treason
Reply to  Dave Broad
March 23, 2015 5:17 pm

The iron was from stromatalites, which are still to be found in coastal Western Australia. Perhaps meteorites gave us our argyle diamonds as well. One thing we did NOT receive from cosmic forces was decent politicians and unbiased media.

Les Francis
Reply to  Dave Broad
March 24, 2015 3:21 am

Donb, Argyle diamonds are volcanic origin. Plus they are some billions of years old – not millions.

George E. Smith
Reply to  Dave Broad
March 26, 2015 7:35 pm

Well there was an impact zone of a different kind last night at the Sydney Cricket Grounds, when Australia dispatched defending World Cricket Cup Champions, India, with a diabolical fielding strategy to defend their 329 run batting total in the first half of the game.
The Indians could score a run if they just tapped the ball out of the pitch, as there were no Aussie fielders in sight. But they couldn’t get any more than a single, and the ball count was going down faster than the run count was going up, so India ended up needing at least three runs per ball for about the last ten overs to win. It was gruesome to watch. But finally the Indian batters just all dived off a cliff together, to get it over with so they were all out with about 20 more balls left on the table.
But no lives were lost in this event, and the Aussie / Kiwi first ever Tasman Sea World Cup final will be a humdinger.
G
now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Donb
Reply to  Bill Illis
March 23, 2015 4:59 pm

I would be cautious about interpreting this structure as truly an impact. Without corroborating evidence beyond those mentioned, the argument for an impact is weak. Glass can be produced in many ways, and hot plumes rising from the mantle are by no means rare.

HankHenry
Reply to  Donb
March 23, 2015 5:16 pm

Yeah, no mention of shocked quartz.

Stuart jones
Reply to  Donb
March 23, 2015 5:21 pm

Why dont you trust the word of the scientist? (sarc)

George E. Smith
Reply to  Donb
March 27, 2015 7:13 pm

Yeah; I read an article in one of the Australian newspapers about the find, and they said it was a bit premature to claim it as an impact crater, and evidently, not a lot of dating evidence so they aren’t too sure of its age.
But I would expect that impacts of that size, would cause a lot of disruption whenever they happened.
G

David A
Reply to  Bill Illis
March 23, 2015 10:00 pm

Is this time frame adequate for tectonic movement and mixing to destroy all evidence such as is found in the meteorite strike 66 million years ago?

Gary Pearse
March 23, 2015 11:34 am

The Sudbury Basin in Canada: “60 km long, 30 km wide and 15 km deep. It was created as the result of a 10 km cometary impact that occurred 1.85 billion years ago in the Paleoproterozoic era. Its present size is believed to be a smaller portion of a 250 km round crater that the bolide originally created. Subsequent geological processes have deformed the crater into the current smaller oval shape. Sudbury Basin would then be the second largest crater on earth, after the 300 km Vredefort crater in South Africa, and larger than the 170 km Chicxulub crater in Yucatán, Mexico which is linked to the extinction of the dinosaurs.”
http://www.canadaka.net/achievements/52-sudbury-basin-largest-meteor-crater-in-canada.html
I think it also possible that the circular geometry of the west coast of Quebec on Hudson’s bay and possibly even the Bay itself could have been shaped by huge impacts in the very distant past.
https://ca.search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=B111CA662D20141029&p=map+of+Quebec+province
There are several smaller round craters in Quebec. Take a look at these babies!
https://ca.images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=AwrBTv6AXBBVpaEAxHLrFAx.;_ylu=X3oDMTBsa3ZzMnBvBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkAw–?_adv_prop=image&fr=mcafee&va=Quebec+circular+crater+lakes

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gary Pearse
March 23, 2015 11:42 am

This blankety blank link to Quebec crater lakes:
https://ca.images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=AwrBTvfpXRBVt5sAqJLrFAx.;_ylu=X3oDMTBsa3ZzMnBvBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkAw–?_adv_prop=image&fr=mcafee&va=crater+lakes+in+Quebec

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gary Pearse
March 23, 2015 11:43 am

Sorry copy the crater link in your browser for the most spectacular crater lakes in the world.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
March 23, 2015 2:12 pm

Works if you take the ‘S’ off ‘https’

Resourceguy
Reply to  Gary Pearse
March 23, 2015 12:25 pm

Okay, that’s good but let’s not get carried away with seeing crop circles on maps as in speculation about Hudson Bay.

Michael Wassil
Reply to  Resourceguy
March 23, 2015 5:49 pm
Pat Frank
March 23, 2015 11:36 am

At 460 million years ago, the Ordovician, the approximate mid-point of the impact time-range, what became Australia was close to the equator; the preferred impact zone for a bolide originating from the ecliptic. Likewise during the Proterozoic, 650 million years ago.

DesertYote
Reply to  Pat Frank
March 23, 2015 9:07 pm

Didn’t the Ordovician end in a brutal ice age?

Dr. Strangelove
Reply to  Pat Frank
March 23, 2015 9:18 pm

I guess this asteroid and a gamma ray burst caused the ice age during the Ordovician-Silurian extinction. It could cause an impact winter but photochemical smog from gamma rays is needed for the cold period to last 500,000 years.

Aphan
March 23, 2015 11:37 am

Bill….were they 10 kms across on impact? Or originally before they entered our atmosphere? Can that be determined by “the two impact zones total more than 400 kms across”?

Bill Illis
Reply to  Aphan
March 23, 2015 11:56 am

Doesn’t matter. The amount of material burned up in the atmosphere would be very small. It only takes seconds to reach the surface. Then one can think of it as when it first touches the ground, the top of the asteroid is still 10 kms high in the atmosphere, the lower troposphere, and higher than most clouds.

auto
Reply to  Bill Illis
March 23, 2015 3:22 pm

Bill Illis
I think the word significant is not inappropriate in that context, given that Mt Everest is <10 Km tall.
+several
Auto

logos_wrench
March 23, 2015 11:39 am

I’m going employ idiotic alarmist style causation. Large Asteroids struck earth before people started burning fossil fuels, a large asteroid hasn’t struck earth since humans started burning fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels keeps large asteroids from striking the earth.

Lisa
Reply to  logos_wrench
March 23, 2015 11:46 am

That’s specious reasoning. By your logic, I could say that this rock keeps tigers away.

Markon
Reply to  Lisa
March 23, 2015 11:58 am

Yes Lisa. Same logic says CO2 drives global warming. You do see now that your chain got yanked right?

Reply to  Lisa
March 23, 2015 12:41 pm

Tigers are an endangered specious.
So is humor, apparently.

Bob Boder
Reply to  Lisa
March 23, 2015 12:47 pm

Can I have the rock [if] I have a tiger problem in my neighborhood?

old44
Reply to  Lisa
March 23, 2015 1:18 pm

No tigers in Australia,, you may be on to something.

timothy sorenson
Reply to  Lisa
March 23, 2015 1:31 pm

I have a fence around my house, but by inverting my reasoning; I have enclosed ALL tigers in the world by my fence. (I hope!)

Chip Javert
Reply to  Lisa
March 23, 2015 2:46 pm

Lisa
Ok…now we got a falsifiable prediction…
Your theory’s only 6 hours old and it’s already better than 25+ years of (IPCC) global warming almost-kinda-sorta theory. It’s also well known that 97% of people do not want to be eaten by a tiger.

auto
Reply to  Lisa
March 23, 2015 3:29 pm

I tear up copies of the local rag ‘The Sun’ whilst on the train to London.
Ever day. It works.
But …
Yesterday, someone asked me why . . . .
I explained that it kept the mastodons away.
The guy said ‘There are no mastodons here!’
I nodded, and added ‘Well it IS effective, isn’t it . . . .’
Ahhhhhhhhh . . . . !
The old ones are the good ones – are they not?
Auto

KennyDoug
Reply to  Lisa
March 23, 2015 9:05 pm

Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

BruceC
Reply to  Lisa
March 24, 2015 1:32 am

old44:

No tigers in Australia, you may be on to something.

Nope! The crocodiles, white pointers, funnel webs, blue-ring octopus, stone fish, taipan and box jelly-fish drove them out.

Richard G
Reply to  Lisa
March 30, 2015 8:07 pm

I once saw a man eaten by a Tiger. He didn’t seem to be enjoying it. He must have been part of the 97%.

March 23, 2015 11:41 am

10kms across assumes a lot about their composition and other knock on variables such as did they air burst? We do live in a violent universe.
Pointman

tty
Reply to  Pointman
March 23, 2015 12:12 pm

Really big bolides don’t airburst. There isn’t time to heat them up. And the composition matters less than one might think with really large objects.

George Tetley
March 23, 2015 11:42 am

Or-strain ? and repercussions from the impact are still affecting the mentality of the Or-strain flat earth society

Somebody else
Reply to  George Tetley
March 23, 2015 3:48 pm

Thats uncalled for. you can’t make fun of one nutjob group without making fun of your own.

daved46
Reply to  Somebody else
March 24, 2015 9:05 pm

I think you just scored a self-goal.

Mac the Knife
March 23, 2015 12:00 pm

Wow!
There is sooo much we do not know about how this wonderful planet responds to true catastrophes such as this double pounding by 10km meteorites. It makes the piddling wiggle watching of +/- 1C change in ‘global temperature’ and all of the hyperbolic rhetoric (with 97% certainty!) of impending ‘catastrophe’ fade into complete insignificance, by comparison.
Perspective parries pernicious propaganda.

Reply to  Mac the Knife
March 23, 2015 12:46 pm

… man’s puny calculus …

auto
Reply to  Mac the Knife
March 23, 2015 3:31 pm

Amazing alliteration alleviates alopecia – always?
Auto

James Bull
Reply to  auto
March 23, 2015 5:16 pm

Didn’t work for me I can alliterate with the best of them but my hair still fell out. Or is it that I have a very high forehead (up across the top and on its way down the back)
James Bull

Mac the Knife
Reply to  auto
March 23, 2015 8:16 pm

Active brains generate greater heat… and must radiate it through the scalp, leading to ‘hemispherical heating’ and increasing follicular failure. That’s my hypothesis…. and I’m sticking to it. If alliteration alleviated alopecia, it would ‘hirsute’ me well! But alas, my thinning scalp would not be fit to adorn the most timid coup pole.

David A
Reply to  auto
March 23, 2015 10:05 pm

Mac, just remember, you are simply growing taller then your hair!

David A
Reply to  auto
March 23, 2015 10:07 pm

….but avoid the smart ass who takes your hat off, calls you a poor magician, and says “see, there is no hare in their”

James Bull
Reply to  auto
March 24, 2015 1:56 am

Mac I had someone tell me years ago that as you get older the hair roots go deeper, if they find grey matter they turn grey if they find nothing they fall out.
David loved the hat gag
I just tell people it’s a solar panel for a sex machine.
James Bull

Brian H
Reply to  auto
March 25, 2015 5:12 am

It’s called having a fivehead instead of a forehead (or fourhead).

Wayne job
Reply to  Mac the Knife
March 24, 2015 2:20 am

Just rode my harley from the bottom to the top of oz, up through the middle, it is the oldest land mass on earth, God only knows what happened to it in the past. It is looking very old only a few Mesa,s left the rest washed away. My understanding was that Oz was part of antarctica and has been drifting North. I am in darwin. Hot as hell, the landscape is so old that all ancient catastrophise would be well washed away. Good luck to the researchers trying to make some sense of it all.

David A
Reply to  ferdberple
March 23, 2015 10:10 pm

My former Geology teacher gave us all bumper stickers which said, “Reunite Gondwona land.”

Reply to  David A
March 24, 2015 5:46 pm

I remember a young lady in one of my geophysics classes asking, “Well, it wasn’t called Gondwana back then was it?”

Reply to  David A
March 24, 2015 5:46 pm

She also asked, “If the Everest is still rising, what is the point of climbing it?”

Resourceguy
March 23, 2015 12:21 pm

With that scale of impact, they need to check for layered magmas with precious metals. At any rate it takes time for evidence to build up. This will take a methodical science approach as opposed to overreach climate witch hunting.

tty
Reply to  Resourceguy
March 23, 2015 12:40 pm

Are you thinking of Sudbury? Or a thin fallout layer with elevated platinum-group content? That is not easy to find for impacts older than the Jurassic where there are no undisturbed deep-ocean sediments.

Resourceguy
Reply to  tty
March 23, 2015 1:32 pm

Sudbury, but other layered mafics come to mind with no known association with impacts

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
March 23, 2015 12:29 pm

I recall reading somewhere that a really large meteor strike would cause a pressure spike in the molton core and massively increased magma eruptions. Is that still the theory?

tty
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
March 23, 2015 12:44 pm

It is known from other planets (Mercury, Mars) that the effects of really large impacts are focussed at the antipodal point and can cause large-scale magmatic activity there, but there is no undisputed case where this has been proven on Earth.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  tty
March 23, 2015 1:25 pm

In this context, how large is really large?

Sturgis Hooper
Reply to  tty
March 23, 2015 2:36 pm

The End Cretaceous impact in Yucatan was anitipodal to the Deccan Traps, but they seem to have been erupting already when the bolide hit.

ferdberple
Reply to  tty
March 23, 2015 3:21 pm

large-scale magmatic activity
==============
hit a bar of iron with a hammer and you can turn the iron bar into a permanent magnet.

Bill Illis
Reply to  tty
March 23, 2015 5:44 pm

The Deccan Traps were not antipodal to Chicxulub impact site/crater.
Remember there has been continental drift since 65 million years ago and the impact site would have been about where Puerto Rico is today. This would make it antipodal to an area south of Indonesia today which is not geographical where the Deccan Traps occured in the Indian Ocean directly south of India today. There is still a less-active magma plume/hotspot there today south of the Maldives.

RACookPE1978
Editor
Reply to  Bill Illis
March 23, 2015 6:13 pm

Remember there has been continental drift since 65 million years ago and the impact site would have been about where Puerto Rico is today.
Look again: How far do you believe the Indian continent has moved towards the Himalaya’s in only 65 Million years?
PS. The Gulf of Mexico impact was 63-65 Myear ago, what were the dates of the Deccan lava flows?

TYoke
Reply to  tty
March 23, 2015 7:27 pm

“The Gulf of Mexico impact was 63-65 Myear ago, what were the dates of the Deccan lava flows?”
According to Wikipedia, the dates are 66Ma in both cases.\
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deccan_Traps
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cretaceous%E2%80%93Paleogene_extinction_event
A curious coincidence at the very least. Just looking at a globe shows that the Yucatan impact is pretty darn close to 180 degrees different from the Deccan Traps by longitude. However, both the impact and the Traps are now at about 20 degrees North. 20 degrees south is in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
It would be interesting to know more precisely the relative drift of those two locations over the past 66 million years.

TYoke
Reply to  tty
March 23, 2015 7:34 pm

Here is a short video that animates the continents over the past 250Ma. It shows an illustration at 66Ma that has India well below the equator, and pretty close to antipodal to what is now eastern Mexico.
Pretty cool theory, at least.

[Thank you for the research and the effort of replying. .mod]

TYoke
Reply to  tty
March 23, 2015 7:35 pm
Reality Observer
Reply to  tty
March 24, 2015 2:18 am

@TYoke – cool video! Especially the projection forward. Poor lonely Aussies…

Sturgis Hooper
Reply to  tty
March 24, 2015 9:26 am

Bill, True. I should have said roughly.
IMO the Deccan Traps were caused by the Indian Plate passing over the Reunion Island hotspot.
Some think hotspots are created by impacts penetrating the crust.

RACookPE1978
Editor
Reply to  Sturgis Hooper
March 24, 2015 9:44 am

Sturgis Hooper

IMO the Deccan Traps were caused by the Indian Plate passing over the Reunion Island hotspot.
Some think hotspots are created by impacts penetrating the crust.

The concept (of opposite-side effects to a collision on one side) is that the impact itself doesn’t penetrate (and of course the crater is not that deep), but that the shock waves enter the mantle and re-focus around the not-quite-a-liquid but very dense core to cause a massive shock zone on the opposite side of the sphere. Since the core itself is spherical and the shock waves travel so much faster than the rotation of the earth, the impact is expected to “mirror” across the equator and the longitude line.

tty
March 23, 2015 12:37 pm

The word from other geologists who have worked on the Warburton basin is that it is from Early Cambrian to Middle Ordovician in age. This would mean that if it is associated with a mass extinction, the End Cambrian, Dresbachian or End-Botomian ones would seem most likely. The End-Botomian was possibly the second greatest marine extinction event after the End-Permian one.

tabnumlock
March 23, 2015 12:39 pm

This is why it’s so important to colonize space. But we’re going to have to create a human with four arms and a tolerance for zero g, radiation and confinement. Once Man learns to live in space here, he could easily do it at Alpha Centuri. Then some form of humanity will be immortal.

Resourceguy
Reply to  tabnumlock
March 23, 2015 12:44 pm

We are already well on track to reduce bone structure from lots of sitting, and before that there was the downsizing from hunter gather bone and jaw structure to farmers.

Reply to  tabnumlock
March 23, 2015 12:49 pm

I know plenty of spineless people.

Streetcred
Reply to  Max Photon
March 23, 2015 2:45 pm

LOL !

James Bull
Reply to  Max Photon
March 23, 2015 5:18 pm

Jelly Babies
James Bull

D.J. Hawkins
Reply to  tabnumlock
March 23, 2015 1:17 pm

@tabnumlock
Lois McMaster Bujold’s Quaddies, I suppose?

Resourceguy
March 23, 2015 12:42 pm

It would help to see some maps and remote sensing. I guess that comes later.

Reply to  Resourceguy
March 23, 2015 12:48 pm

No need. 97% of geologers agree …

Streetcred
Reply to  Max Photon
March 23, 2015 2:44 pm

LOL !

tty
Reply to  Resourceguy
March 23, 2015 12:50 pm

Here is an earlier report on the same subject (2011) which includes a map:
http://www.geothermal.uq.edu.au/filething/get/1279/WARBURTON%20BASIN%20REPORT-7-2-11A.pdf

rabbit
Reply to  Resourceguy
March 23, 2015 1:48 pm

I would like to see a seismic section, but a 3D seismic survey big enough to cover the region of interest might be expensive. I would imagine the impact left some serious faults.

scot
March 23, 2015 12:59 pm

Might explain all the pink and red diamonds that come out of the Argyle diamond mine.

tty
Reply to  scot
March 23, 2015 1:05 pm

No – diamonds come from very deep in the Earth. The diamonds found in impact deposits are microscopic. There is a theory though that all diamonds were originally formed by the really big impacts that occurred back in the Hadean more than 4 billion years ago, but those were orders of magnitude larger than anything that has happened since then.

scot
Reply to  tty
March 23, 2015 7:18 pm

Red/pink diamonds come from other, already formed diamonds, that are later exposed to some sort of deforming force.

Reply to  scot
March 23, 2015 2:50 pm

Scot, the Argyle diamond mine is nowhere near this impact crater. It is in extreme NW Australia. And is a classic kimberlite ‘pipe’ system of volcanic origin. Now, did the impact cause the vulcanism? Not if the geological assessments of Argyle’s origins are correct. Google can be your friend. Amazing what can be learned in just a few minutes.

donaitkin
March 23, 2015 1:07 pm

I think this is the first time I have read anything by Andrew Glikson that doesn’t tell me that CO2 is a menace and we are all doomed.

joelobryan
March 23, 2015 1:27 pm

A Double tap downunder.

Sturgis Hooper
Reply to  joelobryan
March 23, 2015 2:33 pm

Not sure that everybody will get that. If only the hit had been in Mozambique. And the drill.

Jon Jewett
Reply to  Sturgis Hooper
March 23, 2015 8:59 pm

Only the elite will understand.

Resourceguy
March 23, 2015 1:37 pm

So how do you know there was no mass extinction associated with it if the date range is so wide at this early stage?

karabar
March 23, 2015 1:43 pm

Does Glikson have any credibility? He was one of the “Climate Commission” which included the spectacularly mendacious alarmists Tim Flannery, Will Steffan, and David Karoly.

David A
Reply to  karabar
March 23, 2015 10:17 pm

Perhaps he see the writing on the wall, and wants other credentials?

See - owe to Rich
March 23, 2015 1:46 pm

Off topic crowd sourcing: in http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/10/25/changes-in-total-solar-irradiance/ Willis wrote “In addition, again according to the IPCC, using their central value of 3°C warming per doubling of CO2 (3.7 W/m2 additional forcing)…”.
Can anyone give me an exact IPCC reference for that 3.7? I’d really appreciate it.
Rich.

Reply to  See - owe to Rich
March 23, 2015 2:03 pm

IPCC TAR 2001 WG1 1.2.1 and Appendix 9.1. ‘Official’. Derived from spectral radiative transfer codes like Modtran. For some less certain detail on how this canonical value translates into zero feedback warming at different lattitudes, see Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. 12/11/2010.

See - owe to Rich
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 23, 2015 3:10 pm

Thanks, Rud, that’s most helpful. I was looking for it in AR5 but failed.
Rich.

Stephen Richards
March 23, 2015 1:58 pm

Geologists claim there was a snowball earth about 600myrs ago. What the odds?

Resourceguy
Reply to  Stephen Richards
March 23, 2015 2:22 pm

One of the snowball epochs anyway. This is interesting about Sir Douglas Mawson.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowball_Earth
And this somewhat related study from Africa
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/308/5719/239.abstract

Phlogiston
March 23, 2015 2:22 pm

The Earth in the mid Phanerozoic was largely ocean with less land area than now. I suspect that this means the earth system was more robust against bolide impacts, maritime influence would stabilise climate quite strongly and rapidly after an impact.

March 23, 2015 2:22 pm

So a question. Why was anybody doing this geothermal energy research in the almost exact middle of the outback in the first place? Nutty waste of Australian taxpayer dollars.
Geothermal only makes sense in tectonic rift (Iceland) or subduction (US West Coast) zones where you can get close to mantle temperatures. Yellowstone hot spot would be a lovely exception, but might upset Greenies to plumb Old Faithful for their renewable energy.
South Africa’s deepest goldmines are now near 3km, one km deeper than these Australian drill cores. Temp at the working face is a ‘blistering ‘ 165F. Hot water, yes. Geothermal energy, not by a long shot. Just basic Rankin cycle math. Darned those old laws of thermodynamics, discovered at the same time as coal was first used to power steam engines.

tty
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 23, 2015 3:53 pm

The heat flow in the Murchison basin is exceptionally high.

gymnosperm
Reply to  tty
March 23, 2015 10:45 pm

Yes, and an impact might just be the explanation.

Sleepalot
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 24, 2015 1:27 am

All (publicly-funded) research aims to measure the depth of the tax-payers’ pockets.

Village Idiot
March 23, 2015 2:26 pm

If there was any sort of computer modeling witchcraft involved then we might as well flush the whole story down the pan.

J
March 23, 2015 2:43 pm

This is always a fun one to plug in the numbers-looks like Richter 9.6 shock form a single 10km chunk.
The impact effects calculator:
http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/

JohnB
Reply to  J
March 23, 2015 7:09 pm

Just be careful about distance though or you get “Your position is inside the fireball”. Oh goody. 😉

zemlik
March 23, 2015 3:05 pm

shame it didn’t happen a bit later 😉

joelobryan
Reply to  zemlik
March 23, 2015 3:54 pm

Just maybe, the Cambrian Explosion may not have happened had the bolide not impacted. All just speculation, and irrelevant as well.

tty
Reply to  joelobryan
March 24, 2015 7:42 am

It’s definitely not that old.

Larry Ledwick
March 23, 2015 3:41 pm

If you assume that asteroid impacts are essentially random in distribution, and given that 70% of the earth is covered by water, it would be reasonable to assume that for every old impact you find on continental crust there were probably 2.3 that occurred in the oceans some where.

joelobryan
Reply to  Larry Ledwick
March 23, 2015 3:55 pm

Would make for an interesting day at the beach.

RACookPE1978
Editor
Reply to  Larry Ledwick
March 23, 2015 10:09 pm

Larry Ledwick
March 23, 2015 at 3:41 pm

If you assume that asteroid impacts are essentially random in distribution, and given that 70% of the earth is covered by water, it would be reasonable to assume that for every old impact you find on continental crust there were probably 2.3 that occurred in the oceans some where.

Much of today’s exposed-to-the-atmosphere continental rock is fairly recent: Only a few areas around Australia, Africa and the central Canadian tundra are “original rock” in that they’ve been exposed to bombardment for 3.7 billion years or more. The rest of today’s continents are ex-seafloor moved around, bumped up and submerged and piled into mountains chains, etc. The seafloor is also fairly new: The oldest rocks under the heavy cover of debris and whale poop are getting jammed under the continental rocks in the trenches at the edge of the continents.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crust_%28geology%29
Other areas around ocean floor expanding points (the Atlantic’s east and west coastlines) for example, may have comet impact craters – but they’ve been buried under 1 kilometers of more whale and shark poop.

David A
Reply to  RACookPE1978
March 23, 2015 10:22 pm

“but they’ve been buried under 1 kilometers of more whale and shark poop.”
Perhaps the MIA heat is in a giant compost pile at the bottom of the sea. I knew it was some form of manure. (-;

zemlik
March 23, 2015 3:53 pm

I hope CERN is on the night time tariff this time

Gentle Tramp
March 23, 2015 3:58 pm

Quite interesting – BUT WHY ON EARTH do they drill for geothermal energy in the middle of Australia’s outback ???
Do the Kangaroos there feel to cold or what? Well, in that case it would be much cheaper to solve the problem this way:
http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/jokes/sheep-with-kangaroo

John Gorter
Reply to  Gentle Tramp
March 24, 2015 4:29 am

Because earlier oil and gas drilling showed that the region was geothermally hot, and that’s where most of the onshore drill rigs are concentrated.
Ciao
John

Gentle Tramp
Reply to  John Gorter
March 24, 2015 1:01 pm

Thank you for this information.

José Tomás
March 23, 2015 4:10 pm

OFF TOPIC:
Scott Adams of Dilbert’s fame is discussing Climate Change Science in his blog. He has a huge and educated readership.
http://blog.dilbert.com/post/114402236396/who-is-more-anti-science
If someone here wants to throw some light there…

trafamadore
March 23, 2015 4:32 pm

Why are asteroids in space on fire? I thought WUWT was into accurate pictures?

Khwarizmi
Reply to  trafamadore
March 23, 2015 5:58 pm

It’s an artists illustration of an asteroid with a coma.
http://www.universetoday.com/81576/asteroid-sheila-sprouts-a-tail-and-coma/
The fire is in your imagination.

Zeke
Reply to  Khwarizmi
March 23, 2015 6:14 pm

Oh yes, asteroids are full of surprises.
http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/14-060-asteroid-disintegration_1.jpg
“The Keck Observatory showed us this thing was worth looking at with Hubble,” Jewitt said. “With its superior resolution, space telescope observations soon showed there were really 10 embedded objects, each with comet-like dust tails. The four largest rocky fragments are up to 400 yards in diameter, about four times the length of a football field.”

March 23, 2015 4:48 pm

trafamadore,
You seem very unhappy here. You never have a good or positive thing to say. Why not post elsewhere?

Zeke
Reply to  dbstealey
March 23, 2015 5:31 pm

Asteroids are visible because of their brightness; that is also how the size is estimated.
“Size estimates: Object diameters are rough approximations derived by standard formula from H, an object’s “absolute magnitude” (brightness), where higher numbers represent dimmer (thus usually smaller) objects.”

trafamadore
Reply to  Zeke
March 23, 2015 6:04 pm

It’s not bright, it’s burning up. Like after it hits the atmosphere, but it’s still way out in space. You could say it’s a comet, but the tail is pointed towards the sun, also wrong, and anyway, they are talking about asteroids.
And db, it is WUWT that loves to complain about photoshopped polar bears, not me.

Reply to  Zeke
March 23, 2015 8:06 pm

trafamadore,
Yes. Readers here object to that kind of dishonest photoshopping — while you apparently approve.
When someone becomes a climate alarmist, they must check their ethics at the door.

Zeke
Reply to  Zeke
March 23, 2015 8:37 pm

@trafamadore
Artists’ concept work is a problem of mine also, in many cases. (:

David A
Reply to  Zeke
March 23, 2015 10:27 pm

trafamdore found us out, I guess we will have to give up our plans for world domination.

David A
Reply to  Zeke
March 23, 2015 11:01 pm

…and here I was ready to capitulate, and admit that this post was about something that could cause climate change I could believe in.

Zeke
Reply to  Zeke
March 24, 2015 1:30 pm

Massive asteroid/meteor impacts are not clamatic “tipping points” because they are not caused by human activity.
Now see how you are? (:

Reply to  dbstealey
March 23, 2015 7:45 pm

But ass-steroids make him feel better. (People do what they do because there is always a payoff.)

Bob in Castlemaine
March 23, 2015 5:37 pm

Tread warily where Dr. Glikson is concerned. As Jo Nova demonstrated a few years back, his musts, mays and coulds need to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

karabar
Reply to  Bob in Castlemaine
March 23, 2015 5:54 pm

He lost all credibility hanging out with the Flim Flam man.

March 23, 2015 7:19 pm

Well this explains the kangaroos, poor mutated buggers.

March 23, 2015 7:43 pm

Why would such a large object break in two ‘moments’ before impact? Surely the thermal shock would be superficial over such a brief encounter with the atmosphere.
(The Thunderbolts folks would probably say that there was a large voltage differential between the earth and the object, and upon nearing the earth, quickly increasing internal electrical stresses causes the break-up, similar to an exploding over-charged capacitor.)

RACookPE1978
Editor
Reply to  Max Photon
March 23, 2015 8:09 pm

Max Photon

Why would such a large object break in two ‘moments’ before impact? Surely the thermal shock would be superficial over such a brief encounter with the atmosphere.

But look at the 20+ objects that comet shoemaker-levy busted up into during just one loop around Jupiter prior to its fatal impact – and that impact was spread out over some 15 days, only 1-1/2 years after the original comet was slung around the planet. These things are not necessarily all that well glued together into single round solid objects.
Which is why I question severely (laugh at) any thoughts and plans of actually getting a remote-controlled, 15 minutes lag time-between-phone-calls-radio-signals to control a “lander on a spinning irregular-shaped irregularly cemented-together “comet” and attach a “lanyard” exactly on the “south pole” to “pull it” away from the future earth’s orbit intercept point. A pipe dream.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
March 23, 2015 8:37 pm

Thanks for that. I just investagoogled Shoemaker-Levy; I didn’t realize it was a Jupiter-orbiting comet. Trippy.
As for comet abatement, what better way to burn copious green funding than with a pipe dream?
Here’s mission control …
http://www.celebstoner.com/assets/images/pages/2013/csnews13/CheechChong_UIS.jpg

tty
Reply to  Max Photon
March 24, 2015 7:48 am

“Why would such a large object break in two ‘moments’ before impact?”
It would have happened slightly earlier when it crossed the Roche limit. At ordinary orbital speeds that would be 5-10 minutes before impact. Many asteroids ar “rubble piles” only held together by gravity.

BillTheGeo
March 23, 2015 7:52 pm

This must be due to climate change. Let’s see if the climate modelers can hindcast and predict the time and place of impact!

March 23, 2015 8:42 pm

Could it be from trying to remember the meaning of your non de plume?

RACookPE1978
Editor
March 23, 2015 9:59 pm

To take a sobering count of just how “likely” a continent-sized (or planet-sized!) blast cloud can be, consider that in less than 20 years, 25 huge impacts have been photographed on Jupiter alone. (21 from comet Shuemaker-Levy-9, and 4 additional impacts)
None were expected. Only the comet was seen before impact – and that only because as a comet, it did become bright enough to see by telescope. Yes, Jupiter has a huge gravitation field, and yes, it is closer to the asteroid belt. But ….
See this Wkipedia page for links to each of the other impacts.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jupiter_events
Impacts
September 2012 Jupiter impact event[2]
August 2010 Jupiter impact event[2]
June 2010 Jupiter impact event
2009 Jupiter impact event
Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 (1994 impact event)

Patrick
March 24, 2015 12:32 am

Not only some of the largest, but some of the oldest and some of those can be barely seen from the ground because they have, literally, been worn away by erosion over time.

March 24, 2015 5:52 am
Mandobob
March 24, 2015 1:19 pm

For those who ponder if the Deccan Traps flood basalts were due to to the Chicxulub impact, please see the link.
/www.sci-news.com/geology/science-deccan-traps-volcanism-dinosaur-extinction-02345.html
or if you have an account (paywall)
Blair Schoene et al. U-Pb geochronology of the Deccan Traps and relation to the end-Cretaceous mass extinction. Science, published online December 11, 2014; doi: 10.1126/science.aaa0118
Briefly, more exact rock dating has placed a beginning date for the eruptions at 250,000 years prior to the impact and extending 500,000 years after. I would say that there is strong evidence that they are neither linked either by time or process.

March 24, 2015 1:59 pm

If rocks ~300MY were affected, the impact would have been younger. If the surface layers at the time of impact have been removed by later erosion, the age of the unconformity between affected rock and over burden without signs of impact will give the oldest possible date for the impact. In view of the global effects expected, I’d look at the Permo-Triassic boundary at 252 mya as a possible impact date.

GregK
March 25, 2015 12:18 am

A quiet time at ANU……the vice chancellor has a ring around ….”anybody got anything interesting for an announcement ?
Well we’ve got this impact stuff…announced it a couple of years ago but no one will remember
Good stuff, get on with it Andy…
https://web.archive.org/web/20130303083341/http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hKA11RSxMWXNDCylkruMp8ArUxLQ?docId=CNG.1bb4b4734767ea26f972911ed32c4387.4a1

Michael J. Dunn
March 25, 2015 1:13 pm

The earlier comment about bolides was mistaken: the fracture of a meteor in the atmosphere has little to do with heating (although there is plenty of heat). The meteor is supersonic and thus creates a shockwave ahead of itself. There is a high overpressure behind the shockwave, in front of the meteor, where the incoming airflow “stagnates” or comes nearly to rest relative to the meteor. This constitutes an axial compression load against the meteor (overpressure vs. inertia). Once the compression strength of the meteor is exceeded, it fractures (releasing compression strain energy in the process). If it is a small meteor (bolide), this manifests as an apparent “explosion,” even though nothing actually explodes (like TNT).
This fracture mechanism could have happened to the Australian monster collider, but it requires a determination of how fast the speed of sound was within the material body of the meteor, since pressure effects are communicated basically at the speed of sound within a material. It is not clear how they come to this conclusion of a fractured body at impact, since the fragments would not have had significant time to separate.
There is a further twist to this scenario. As the impact proceeds, the first thing to occur will be the high-speed contact of the shockwave with the surface of the Earth. This will cause a reflection of the shockwave, and the pressure ratio across the shockwave will be the square of what it was coming in. This will create a very high-pressure seismic spike into the Earth. The reflected wave will travel back and reflect again off the meteor, where the pressure ratio across the shockwave squares yet again. It is at least plausible that if the meteor had not fractured in response to the original shockwave, it might well fracture in response to this sudden fourth-power increase of the shockwave pressure ratio, just before impact.

Oilwatcher
March 26, 2015 10:42 am

An impact like this might be even worse than building the Keystone Pipeline!!

Resourceguy
March 31, 2015 8:02 am

The impact of one of these strikes on a major ocean basin would be almost as devastating as political climate change over reach. Either way the unsuspecting populations in the way of these policy-caused and natural events are helpless.

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