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The Truth About Impact Craters

Wolf Creek crater

Wolf Creek crater

By Fred Jourdan

The Earth is scarred from meteor impacts, but how old are they and do these ages match the dates of mass extinction events?

Fred Jourdan is a Senior Research Fellow at Curtin University.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Asteroid and comet impacts have been central to the formation and evolution of our solar system, and represent one of the most important elements shaping planetary surfaces. Throughout their history, the solid planets of the inner part of the solar system have been intensely bombarded by meteors. The number of impacts has drastically decreased since the solar system formed 4.6 billion years ago, but impacts have nevertheless played a crucial role throughout its history.

On Earth, things are a bit more complicated as geological processes have erased all traces of many impact events, and only a relatively small number remain observable today. At present, 176 confirmed impact craters are recognised worldwide, with 26 of them found in Australia.

Perhaps more than anywhere else in the solar system, meteor impacts have played a critical role during the Earth’s history. Impacts have been responsible for delivering the constituent elements of our planet, the formation of major ore and petroleum deposits, and have affected the evolution of life on Earth.

The study of impacts and their effects is currently a very active field at the crossroads of many scientific disciplines, including mineralogy, environmental sciences, geophysics and planetary science. At Curtin University I am working in collaboration with a team of colleagues from Europe and the USA on...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.