Site of biggest ever meteorite collision in the UK discovered

Posted: June 10, 2019 by oldbrew in Geology, research

Hebridean islands of Scotland

So it is believed at least. Researchers say a more detailed underwater survey is needed.

Evidence for the ancient, 1.2 billion years old, meteorite strike, was first discovered in 2008 near Ullapool, NW Scotland by scientists from Oxford and Aberdeen Universities.

The thickness and extent of the debris deposit they found suggested the impact crater—made by a meteorite estimated at 1km wide—was close to the coast, but its precise location remained a mystery.

In a paper published today in Journal of the Geological Society, a team led by Dr. Ken Amor from the Department of Earth Sciences at Oxford University, show how they have identified the crater location 15-20km west of a remote part of the Scottish coastline.

It is buried beneath both water and younger rocks in the Minch Basin.

Dr. Ken Amor said: ‘The material excavated during a giant meteorite impact is rarely preserved on Earth, because it is rapidly eroded, so this is a really exciting discovery. It was purely by chance this one landed in an ancient rift valley where fresh sediment quickly covered the debris to preserve it.

‘The next step will be a detailed geophysical survey in our target area of the Minch Basin.’

Using a combination of field observations, the distribution of broken rock fragments known as basement clasts and the alignment of magnetic particles, the team was able to gauge the direction the meteorite material took at several locations, and plotted the likely source of the crater.

Dr. Ken Amor said: ‘It would have been quite a spectacle when this large meteorite struck a barren landscape, spreading dust and rock debris over a wide area.’

1.2 billion years ago most of life on Earth was still in the oceans and there were no plants on the land. At that time Scotland would have been quite close to the equator and in a semi-arid environment. The landscape would have looked a bit like Mars when it had water at the surface.

Earth and other planets may have suffered a higher rate of meteorite impacts in the distant past, as they collided with debris left over from the formation of the early solar system.

Full report here.
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BBC News: Scientists close in on hidden Scottish meteorite crater

  1. Gamecock says:

    Dr. Ken Amor said: ‘It would have been quite a spectacle when this large meteorite struck a barren landscape, spreading dust and rock debris over a wide area.’


  2. ivan says:

    Sorry Gamecock, but the people that should know don’t agree with you.

  3. JB says:

    I was expecting to read some evidence for claiming the impact was 1.2 BILLION years old. The only factual part related was relevant to its origin, not when. The rest is plain speculation.

  4. Paul Dennis says:

    The Stac Fada meteorite ejects blanket has been dated using radiometric techniques. Similarly so has the Torridonian group in which the Stac Fada member is to be found. Check out: The age of the Mesoproterozoic Stoer Group sedimentary and impact deposits, NW Scotland, Parnell et al., 2011, Jour. Geol. Soc, V168, 349-358.

    [mod] link:

  5. Gamecock says:

    Ivan, your link supports my rant.

    “Where was the man when he jumped off the bridge?”

  6. Gamecock says:

    Isn’t the IAU the same bunch of yahoos who said Pluto isn’t a planet?

  7. oldbrew says:

    Pluto is a dwarf planet. It’s smaller than the Moon and less massive than Eris, which most people have never heard of.