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Asteroid impact zone found in Aussie outback

AFP-JIJI

Scientists have discovered a 200-km-wide impact zone in the Australian Outback they believe was caused by a massive asteroid smashing into Earth more than 300 million years ago.

Andrew Glikson, a visiting fellow at the Australian National University, said Wednesday the asteroid measuring 10 to 20 km in diameter in East Warburton Basin was a giant compared to the plunging meteor that exploded above Russia a week ago. While that event hurt almost 1,000 people in the Urals, Glikson said the consequences of the Australian asteroid would have been global.

“This is a new discovery,” Glikson said. “And what really was amazing was the size of the terrain that has been shocked. It’s now a minimum of 200 km (in diameter) — this makes it about the third biggest anywhere in the world.”

The basin has evidence of some 30,000 sq. km of terrain that has been altered by some kind of shock. “(I) determined that these rocks underwent an extraterrestrial impact,” Glikson said. “We are dealing with an asteroid which is least 10 km in size. It would have had a global impact, not just regional.”