Is Scotland hiding an ancient meteorite crater?

Geologists believe a meteorite crashed into a Scottish strait some 1.2 billion years ago.
Geologists believe a meteorite crashed into a Scottish strait some 1.2 billion years ago. Photo credit: Getty

Scientists want to comb the seabed of a Scottish strait to see if they can find an ancient meteorite crater.

Evidence suggests that about 1.2 billion years ago, a meteorite measuring 1-2km in diameter slammed into the Earth.

Back then the continents were arranged very differently, but the meteorite is believed to have plunged into what is now known as The Minch, a body of water separating the north-west Highlands and northern Inner Hebrides from the Outer Hebrides.

A team of geologists from Oxford and Aberdeen universities believes the meteorite left an impact crater some 15-20km from the shore. The crater would now be buried deep under the seabed.

In 2008 rocky debris known as the Stac Fada deposit was found on the Highlands coast that may have been scattered there by the impact. The fragmented rocks contain melt particles and shocked quartz, minerals associated with meteorite events.

The geologists are now using seismic surveys from the 1970s as well as gravity data which have indicated an anomalous presence in The Minch. However the shaky technology makes it difficult for them to be certain of their findings.

"What we really need is a new high-resolution geophysical survey - a 3D seismic survey," Dr Ken Amor wrote in the Journal of the Geological Society.

"Unfortunately, being offshore that would cost a lot of money. I shall be putting in a grant proposal to do some seismic work. That would be a first step and would greatly assist the definition of any impact structure."

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