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World's oldest meteor impact crater discovered in Greenland

Scientists say they found the oldest meteor impact crater yet discovered, caused by a rock that, if it hit Earth today, would wipe out all higher life. 

Image

An artist's illustration expression of how a large meteorite impact in the sea might have looked in the first second of the impact. Scientists are unsure if the oldest meteorite crater on Earth, a 3-billion-year-old crater in West Greenland, was actually covered in water at the time.

Carsten Egestal Thuesen, GEUS

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The world's oldest meteorite crater —a giant impact zone more than 62 miles wide — has been found in Greenland, scientists say.

Scientists think it was formed 3 billion years ago by a meteorite 19 miles (30 kilometer) wide — which, if it hit Earth today, would wipe out all higher life. The crater is so wide that it would reach the edge of space 62 miles (100 km) above Earth if stood on end.

The crater was "discovered" at an office in Copenhagen by scientist Adam Garde as he pored over maps showing nickel and platinum abundance in the target region of West Greenland. Garde, a senior research scientist with the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, saw a both simple and extreme explanation for several strange geological features in this region: an impact from a meteorite that may have contained valuable metals.

A research team following up on Garde's research collected samples in 2011 that support his hypothesis, and the results are published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

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