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Australia Earth Space Science

Vast Asteroid Crater Found In Timor Sea 121

Posted by kdawson
from the duck-and-cover dept.
An anonymous reader notes the discovery of a 35-million-year-old impact crater in the Timor Sea, northwest of Australia, which helped to usher in a period of significant global cooling. "The new findings, announced today and published in the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, suggest that the impact could have contributed towards the formation of the Antarctic ice sheet... The minimum size of the dome, which 'represents elastic rebound doming of the Earth crust triggered by the impact' is 50 km across, but the full size of the crater could be significantly larger, [lead researcher Andrew Glikson] told Australian Geographic. 'It would be possibly 100 km.' From the probable diameter of the crater, Andrew estimates that the asteroid which struck the Timor Sea was between 5 and 10 km in size. This impact coincided with a time of heavy asteroid bombardment globally. Several other craters have been documented from a similar time, including one off the WA coast measuring 120 km in diameter. Another impact structure in Siberia was created by an asteroid 100 km in size."
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Vast Asteroid Crater Found In Timor Sea

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  • What's the formula for probability of an occurrence like this? I mean i can do probability in the form of - !6 1,2,3,4,5,6/1,2,3,4,5 i might have gotten that wrong, it's early.
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday May 21, 2010 @09:24AM (#32293046) Homepage

    Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

  • Something that large hitting the earth would evaporate most of the oceans and turn a large proportion of the earths surface molten. If it didn't kill off life entirely it would certainly kill off almost all multicellular organisms and reset the evolutionary clock so an impact like that could not have happened in the last 600 million years at least.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pedropolis (928836)
      "Andrew estimates that the asteroid which struck the Timor Sea was between 5 and 10 km" The crater left was up to 100km in diameter.
      • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Friday May 21, 2010 @09:29AM (#32293116)
        FTFS: "Another impact structure in Siberia was created by an asteroid 100 km in size."

        From what I could quickly find, the Popigai Crater in Siberia is 100km in diameter, but that doesn't mean that whatever created it was 100km in size.
    • by RichMan (8097) on Friday May 21, 2010 @09:27AM (#32293080)

      Read the article. The crater is 10x the size of the rock.

      • by Tim C (15259)

        You might want to read the article again yourself:

        Another impact structure in Siberia was created by an asteroid 100 km in size.

        That's in the summary and also in the article - third paragraph from the end.

        • The summary and the article are wrong. A 100 km asteroid impacting would pretty much sterilize the crust.

          • Not the article, just the summary;

            Quoth the article, correctly;

            " Another asteroid impact structure in Siberia is 100 km in size."

            Quoth the summary, wrongly;

            "Another impact structure in Siberia was created by an asteroid 100 km in size."
    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Friday May 21, 2010 @09:28AM (#32293102)

      Reading is fundamental....

      The minimum size of the dome, which 'represents elastic rebound doming of the Earth crust triggered by the impact' is 50 km across, but the full size of the crater could be significantly larger, [lead researcher Andrew Glikson] told Australian Geographic. 'It would be possibly 100 km.'

      Andrew estimates that the asteroid which struck the Timor Sea was between 5 and 10 km in size.

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by gEvil (beta) (945888)
        Reading is fundamental....

        Yes, reading IS fundamental. Now go back and reread the last sentence of the summary and tell me what it says.
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by foobsr (693224)
        Reading is fundamental....

        Indeed so.

        TFS, last sentence:"Another impact structure in Siberia was created by an asteroid 100 km in size."

        CC.
      • Also,

        Another impact structure in Siberia was created by an asteroid 100 km in size.

        Er, what was that about reading comprehension, again?

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by Cruise_WD (410599)

        Reading is fundamental....

        Indeed. Reading all the way to the bottom is equally useful:

        "Another impact structure in Siberia was created by an asteroid 100 km in size."

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Reading is fundamental, you should try it.

        Look at the last line of the 3rd paragraph.

        The person you are replying to obviously read the article, but you where to busy trying to find someone to be snarky at to actual take the 35 seconds it would have taken to read the Article.

        YOU are what is wrong with /.

        • Reading is fundamental, you should try it.

          Look at the last line of the 3rd paragraph.

          The person you are replying to obviously read the article, but you where to busy trying to find someone to be snarky at to actual take the 35 seconds it would have taken to read the Article.

          YOU are what is wrong with /.

          Or maybe he is /. - profound I know!

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      besides what others posted here, you should also realize it would be possible to put a 100km asteroid (10x the size of the one in article) on a trajectory such that it would land on the earth with essentially zero kinetic energy. In other words, merely knowing the size of an asteroid or even its composition tells you nothing about relative velocity with the earth or angle of strike, all of which affect total impact energy.

      • by Viol8 (599362)

        "besides what others posted here, you should also realize it would be possible to put a 100km asteroid (10x the size of the one in article) on a trajectory such that it would land on the earth with essentially zero kinetic energy."

        Utter rubbish. Even if it wasn't moving earths gravity would still accelerate it to a dangerous velocity before it hit us.

        • by rubycodez (864176)

          wrong, you miss the point entirely, there are trajectories for which after passage through the earths gravity the net relative velocity with respect to the earth is zero, at the ground!

          • by Ichoran (106539)

            It's (almost) possible but so fantastically improbable save for careful maneuvering that it's not worth considering.

            (You could have it on a trajectory nearly parallel to the Earth where the Earth catches it from behind very gently (relatively speaking). This is a tiny fraction of all possible approach angles and a tiny fraction of all possible approach velocities.)

      • by CrazyDuke (529195)

        Are you sure about that? Because, this [ic.ac.uk] shows us as being pretty well hosed, even in perfect conditions: minimum velocity, angle, and density, maximum distance from impact. Maybe not sterilized, but still stone (and probably ice) aged or worse. A 100 km wide vaguely spherical object displaces a hell of a lot of fluid and rock, even at low impact velocities.

        • Which part of that page you linked to says we would be sent back to the stone age? It seems to be describing a collision which would obviously devastate the area around the crater but with very minor global impact.

        • by rubycodez (864176)

          very sure, there are trajectories for which an object can end up with zero relative velocity to its landing point on the earth, and at the ground. Impact velocity: zero.

    • Not it wouldn't. It would be bad, but not likely to kill off almost all multicellular organisms.

      And evolution isn't a clock.

      • And evolution isn't a clock.

        That's just a theory unless you can prove it! =P

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Chris Burke (6130)

        Evolution is not a clock.

        It's a series of screws.

      • by rgviza (1303161) on Friday May 21, 2010 @11:33AM (#32294744)

        a 100km dense rock asteroid would sterilize the earth's surface. It would vaporize 343000 cubic miles of crust in less than a second.

        Peak Overpressure: 6.89e+07 Pa = 689 bars = 9780 psi at 500km from impact. Actually at 500km from impact you'd be in the crater since it would be 520 miles in size. If it were possible to not be incinerated instantly, the pressure would probably cause you to explode as it dissipated. The wind would be 14900 mph

        At 5000km from impact, you'd get hit with wind doing 978mph and get subjected to 54psi air pressure 4 hours after impact. This would kill you. Your body would be buried under 5.1 feet of ejecta

        This is assuming a "Dense Rock" asteroid hitting the earth at a 45 degree angle, at 17000kph, which is the typical impact velocity. 11.8 RS earthquake would result over the entire earth. This is off the scale. It's nearly a quadrillion tons of seismic energy. It would split the earth. You would be launched high enough into the air to kill you from the impact when you came back down, if the acceleration didn't kill you. A nickel/iron one would be much worse.

        http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/cgi-bin/crater.cgi?dist=500&distanceUnits=1&diam=100&diameterUnits=2&pdens=&pdens_select=3000&vel=17&velocityUnits=1&theta=45&wdepth=&wdepthUnits=1&tdens=2500 [ic.ac.uk]

        The earth would most likely be an asteroid belt right now from this size of an impact at 45 degrees. It would survive an oblique impact, but the earth would get another moon and it would be an extinction event. The orbit would certainly be affected and the tides would change.

        Yea it would be very messy and kill just about all multicellular animals. People would become extinct. There would be nowhere to hide on the earth's surface.

        • There would be nowhere to hide on the earth's surface.

          Or in other words: What surface? ^^

        • by Drishmung (458368)

          The wind would be 14900 mph

          At 5000km from impact, you'd get hit with wind doing 978mph and get subjected to 54psi air pressure 4 hours after impact.

          Not to disagree with the bulk of your argument, but can you have wind traveling faster than the speed of sound? At any rate, so very much faster than the speed of sound.

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The earth would most likely be an asteroid belt right now from this size of an impact at 45 degrees.

          From your own link (and plugging in the density of a nickel-iron asteroid, in case that is what you were referring to):

          The Earth is not strongly disturbed by the impact and loses negligible mass.

    • by Sciros (986030) on Friday May 21, 2010 @10:49AM (#32294146) Journal

      The last sentence of that summary has _got_ to be a wording mistake. The impact CRATER in Siberia is 100km across. The impactor was (I just looked it up), "either an eight-kilometer diameter chrondrite asteroid, or a five-kilometer diameter stony asteroid." Indeed, an asteroid 100km across hitting the surface would leave something just a tad bit more noticeable than anything we've got so far, heh. And yes it would do really bad things to life on the planet; you're right on that count.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      The line from TFA actually says:

      Another aster impact structure in Siberia is 100 km in size.

      The "oid" in "asteroid" appears to be cut off for me.

  • by wiredog (43288) on Friday May 21, 2010 @09:29AM (#32293124) Journal

    I think they are off by an order of magnitude there.

    • Does it help you to know that you misread the summary?

      The *crater* could be 100 km across. The *asteroid* could be "between 5 and 10 km in size."

      • by Message (303377)

        "Another impact structure in Siberia was created by an asteroid 100 km in size."

        Does it help you to know that you misread the summary?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ZaphDingbat (451843)

          Guilty as charged.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Okay, let's clear this up to the extent that is possible.

          Correctly represented: the structure identified in the Timor Sea (the Mt. Ashmore dome [informaworld.com]) is 50km across, but it represents only the eroded central uplift of a complex crater [wikipedia.org], so the original crater diameter could have been 100km. The impactor for such a crater is roughly 10x as small (the 5 to 10km mentioned).

          Incorrectly represented: the structure being referred to in Siberia is probably the Popigai crater [wikipedia.org], which is about 100km in diameter. This is i

          • by Radish03 (248960)

            When I first read it, I interpreted WA as Western Australia, given the source of the article.

          • Remaining puzzle: I don't know of any 120km-diameter impact crater "off the WA coast" of about the same age (i.e. ~Late Eocene). The Earth Impact Database [www.unb.ca] certainly doesn't show one, and the list of impact craters >100km is very short [www.unb.ca]. In fact, it is unlikely for such a crater to exist off the coast of Washington because the continent quickly changes to deep ocean crust due to the subduction zone parallel to the coast, I'm not sure the crust there is even Eocene in age (it's pretty young due to the adjacent Juan de Fuca ridge), and hardly any impact craters are known from ocean crust anyway (the only ones known are quite small, and didn't really form an "impact crater" because of the deep ocean water). It's possible that this "crater off Washington" was confused with the large (85km) Late Eocene impact structure that exists off the East Coast of the USA in Chesapeake Bay [wikipedia.org] and is not far from Washington, D.C..

            Coincidentally both the Popigai impact and Chesapeake Bay impacts are mentioned in the abstract of the paper [informaworld.com], so it's very likely a mix-up about the two Washingtons that explains the third one. We can't really blame the submitter for the mix-up. They just quoted the errors in the other article.

            I suspect the author actually meant the Woodleigh crater off Western Australia (WA).

            http://www.unb.ca/passc/ImpactDatabase/images/woodleigh.htm [www.unb.ca]

  • total disbelief (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by OzPeter (195038)

    Here we are on slashdot .. an American site (as I keep being told) and the summary is correctly using metric units without translating them to Imperial miles for the consumption of the locals [/sarcasm]

    What the hell is going on, and who replaced slashdot with this site?

    • I don't have any concept of how large it is unless it's expressed in football fields. Or, perhaps, Volkswagen Beetles placed end to end.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      There are easy (rough approximations of) conversions between three metrics -- miles to kilometers, yards to meters, and quarts to liters. A liter is just over a quart, so four liters is just over a gallon. A yard is just short of a meter, so a meter is approximately one yard (three feet). A kilometer is .6 mile, so with a rough number like "aproximately 100 km" it's easy to figure it's about sixty miles. No need to print both metrics with these easy ones.

      We Americans think in imperial while the rest of the

      • by Calydor (739835)
        4 inches is approximately 10 cm. What's so hard about that?
      • ... or humor to humour.

        Like many Americans, extraneous letters have traumatized me at a young age(killed my parents and then raped their corpses while I was forced to watch). It is not about the difficulty in conversion but that the sight of them inspires terror. I spent a good hour screaming and sobbing uncontrollably after just reading your post. I'm sure many of my fellow Americans were similarly affected. Please refrain from posting such terrorism or I shall be forced to report you to the Department of Homeland Security.

    • an asteroid 5-10 km in diameter is roughly 40-160 cubic library of congresses

    • I think American's understand Kilometer's just fine because it fits into their worldview of everything European being a little bit smaller (South can read 'wussier') than the American version ;)
    • Perhaps you'd prefer lengths in Smoots, or cubits? But seriously, you're free to continue using 19th Centrury units if you want, just don't expect everyone else to put effort into enabling you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by OzPeter (195038)

        Perhaps you'd prefer lengths in Smoots, or cubits? But seriously, you're free to continue using 19th Centrury units if you want, just don't expect everyone else to put effort into enabling you.

        Actually .. I use 18th century units like km, m, cm and mm

  • by RichMan (8097) on Friday May 21, 2010 @09:35AM (#32293194)

    So how long before dropping a rock in the ocean is offered as a technological solution to Global Warming ?

  • by jav1231 (539129)
    Okay, first without pictures this story is kinda meh. And a still shot from the movie "Armageddon" doesn't count. And why didn't we find this with Google Earth!? I'm suspicious! :p
  • "coincided with a time of heavy asteroid bombardment globally"

    So, if many other asteroids were impacting, then the effect of this particular one would have been negligible.

  • Chicxulub (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spatial (1235392) on Friday May 21, 2010 @10:08AM (#32293616)
    There's another huge impact crater around Chicxulub, Mexico. [wikipedia.org]

    180km in diameter. Terrifying stuff, it makes a nuclear explosion look like a wet firework.

    Let's hope we're ready for the next rock that comes our way. It's only a matter of time.
  • ahh the benefits of deep sea oil drilling and exploration!!! what could go wrong?
  • What, no Google Maps link? :)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    to be standing 1000km away when an 8km asteroid hits the Timor Sea in an are with a depth of 1000m here is a neat link:
    http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/cgi-bin/crater.cgi?dist=1000&distanceUnits=1&diam=8&diameterUnits=2&pdens=3500&pdens_select=0&vel=20&velocityUnits=1&theta=65&tdens=1000&wdepth=1000&wdepthUnits=1

    If you want to play with the inputs, here is the source site:
    http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/

    • by cjjjer (530715)
      Pretty interesting site a 16m object (iron) using the default parameters would cause windows to shatter (due to airburst) up to 10km away from entry point. A 20m object would seem to cause some pretty bad ass damage to surounding areas even though the object never even reaches the ground (due to airburst).
  • "Another impact structure in Siberia was created by an asteroid 100 km in size" That would've caused an extinction as bad if not worse than the end-K event (the one that killed the dinosaurs) - I think they mean the *crater* is 100 km in size - presumably they're referring to Popigai crater, which is dated to the Eocene, but the *crater* is 100 km, not the asteroid. 100 km is a *big* asteroid.
  • will quickly ban any mention of this crater for being too reminiscent of goatse.
  • Timor! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Tetsujin (103070) on Friday May 21, 2010 @01:54PM (#32296890) Homepage Journal

    And the Lords of the Underworld!
    Darkness fills my heart with pain!
    When the girls start to sleep with girls,
    Beelzebub will rise again!

"You need tender loving care once a week - so that I can slap you into shape." - Ellyn Mustard

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