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Craters of asteroids and meteorites in South Africa

4 November 2014

www.leopard.tv

An asteroid is a smallish planet and a meteorite is a solid fragment of a planet. Millions of meteorites drift in space and they sometimes collide with planets. Although the Earth is not located in the middle of the Universe such collisions are not unusual but they can be catastrophic for life and will change entire landscapes. That meteorites collided with the Earth was unknown to man until members of the French Academy of Science witnessed a meteorite falling on the Earth towards the end of the 18th century. Numerous huge asteroids collided with the earth some 3 to 4 billion years ago. These collisions probably created fissures in the crust of the Earth and stimulated continental drift on tectonic plates.

It has been calculated that at least 200 large meteorites have collided with the Earth in the past 3 billion years. However, later geological activities such as volcanic eruptions have subsequently filled in or covered many of the resultant craters. Because the Earth’s Moon is much more geologically stable than the Earth itself, numerous craters that are older than 3.8 billion years are still visible on the surface of the Moon. The chances of new asteroids and meteorites colliding with the Earth are relatively low, but such an impact will cause large- scale destruction on the heavily populated Earth... (Become a subscriber for more)

 

References:

Alexander, M 2012. The world’s biggest meteor crater. South Africa info, 8 March. http://www.southafrica.info/about/geography/vredefort-080605.htm

Anon 2012. File: Yucatan chix crater.jpg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yucatan_chix_crater.jpg

Davie, L 2012. The Tswaing meteorite crater. South Africa info, 8 March. http://www.southafrica.info/travel/cultural/tswaingcrater.htm

Melosh, H J 2012. Origin of the moon. Tucson: Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Department of Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona. http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/outreach/origin/of/the/moon

Prigg, M 2014. Scientists reconstruct asteroid impact six times bigger than the blast that wiped out the dinosaurs which boiled the oceans, burned the sky, and shook the earth for thirty minutes. Daily Mail, 10 April.

Reimold, W U 1993. Tales of dinosaurs, gold and meteorite craters. Archimedes, May: 13 - 19.

Reimold, W U 2012. Meteorites and meteorite craters. file:///c:DOCUME~1/Admin/LOCALS~1/Temp/reimold.html

Scott, L 1990. Die Pretoria-Soutpan. Spectrum 28(2): 37 - 39.

 

Article by Prof J du P Bothma

 

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