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Scientists find major asteroid impact zone in central Australia
[February 15, 2013]

Scientists find major asteroid impact zone in central Australia

CANBERRA, Feb 15, 2013 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- One of the most extensive asteroid impact zones on earth about 300 million years ago has been found in central Australia, a latest research from the Australian National University (ANU) said on Friday.

Located in northeast South Australia, the East Warburton Basin contains evidence of a 30,000-square kilometer shock-metamorphosed terrain thought to have been caused by an asteroid measuring 10 km to 20 km in diameter that hit Earth more than 298 million years ago.

"The size of the shock metamorphic terrain, larger than 200 km in diameter, makes it the third-largest discovered to date on Earth," said Dr. Andrew Glikson, a visiting fellow in the ANU Planetary Science Institute and the ANU School of Archaeology and Anthropology.

"It is also possible that the asteroid impact dates back to the late Devonian period -- 360 million years ago -- a time of major mass extinction." He also said research into past asteroid impacts is essential in the face of potential future asteroid encounters. This weekend, an asteroid -- 2012 DA14 -- will pass just 34,000 km from Earth, potentially interfering with communication satellites. If the asteroid was to hit Earth, it would make a crater up to 1 km wide, Dr. Glikson said.

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