A repeatable disaster? Calamitous meteor explosion in Antarctica 430,000 years ago

04/07/2021 at 6:24 PM CEST


Seventeen small particles have been recovered from the top of a mountain in eastern Antarctica, suggesting that a space rock may have broken up in the atmosphere over the frozen continent 430,000 years ago. This discovery has generated enough doubts about the nature of the impact.

The pieces, rich in magnesium and nickel together, are more than 6 kilograms in size and have been found scattered among the sediments collected on the top of the Walnumfjellet mountain at around 2,500 meters of altitude. Cosmochemist Matthias van Ginneken of the University of Kent in England has explained that the “exotic” chemistry of these rocks does not match those of Earth, so it is clear that it comes from carbonic chondrite, a type of meteorite quite common.

Most of its 0.1 to 0.3 millimeter particles consist of spherules that have been mixed together into tiny balloons. The mixture of these spherules coincides with other particles found in other parts of the world, so it is considered that they originated in the same impact. Such is so the explosion of 430,000 years ago could have been felt in many parts of the world at once.

Today, an impact of the characteristics of this could devastate entire populated territories. Fear of asteroids and meteorites is growing, since every time we know more about them and we are aware of all those in our environment.