Beware, Giant Asteroids Hit Earth More Often Than Expected

COLORADO – A new study finds that Asteroid giants like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, hit the ancient Earth more often than previously thought.

Roughly every 15 million years, planet Earth is hit by a giant asteroid the size of a city or even a larger province, said scientists who presented at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference this month.

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In the study, Simone Marchi, a principal scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado and her colleagues spotted the presence of so-called spherules. These are tiny bubbles of vaporized rock that are thrown into space by each asteroid impact.

The team developed a new method to model the effects of an asteroid impact. The bigger the asteroid, the thicker the spherical layer in the rock should be.

“We found that the collision model asteroid with Earth is well recorded in the rocks,” Marchi said in the statement Live Science, Tuesday (20/7/2021).

“The actual impact flux could have been a factor of 10 times higher than previously thought in the period between 3.5 and 2.5 billion years ago,” he said.

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That past asteroid strike may also have affected the young planet’s oxygen levels and ability to support life.

According to Rosalie Tostevin, of the University of Cape Town, several chemical markers suggest the presence of oxygen odors in the early atmosphere, before the permanent rise that occurred around 2.5 billion years ago.

“We tend to focus on Earth’s interior and the evolution of life as controls on Earth’s oxygen balance, but rock impacts from space provide an interesting alternative,” he said.

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Rocky bodies without an atmosphere, such as the moon, carry detailed records of past asteroid impacts. Whereas on planet Earth with varying weather patterns and geological activity, traces of many past impacts have long since been erased.

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It took until the late 1970s for scientists to discover the Chicxulub impact crater in Mexico. It took several more years for them to identify this impact as the cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs.

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