World's oldest impact crater discovered in Greenland

About three billion years ago, Greenland got in a fight with some massive celestial body. From what we can tell, Greenland got its butt handed to it. That's the finding (more or less) of a research team which claims to have discovered a 62-mile-wide crater near the Maniitsoq region of western Greenland.

This Earth scar beats the previous oldest known crater (also the world's largest at nearly 190 miles wide) found in South Africa by about a billion years. The newly-found impact is important because it will give geologists an unprecedented new view of cratering on the Earth's crust.

The Maniitsoq crater provides evidence of what must have been a very violent interaction. If you were to tip the crater on its side, its diameter would reach into space. Compare the site's 62 mile crater to the 1,640 foot crater of the 1908 Tunguska impact that flattened a huge swath of the Siberian forest and is thought to have released 15 megatons of energy—or roughly 1,000 times the strength of the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima.

Scary stuff. Good thing we have all those eyes in the sky looking for new threats, which are out there.

So what took scientists so long to find this giant dent? Three billion years of erosion can cover up a lot of blemishes. "The [discovery] process was rather like a Sherlock Holmes story," commented team member Dr. Iain McDonald to Universe Today. "We eliminated the impossible in terms of any conventional terrestrial processes, and were left with a giant impact as the only explanation for all of the facts."

Still, for now it's Space-1, Greenland-0. Your move, walruses.

Via Universe Today

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