Meteorite strikes created Earth’s continents, say scientists
US: A series of massive meteorite strikes was responsible for the formation of the Earth’s continents, a study suggests.
Researchers said on Wednesday that they had found the strongest evidence yet that the continents were held together by ancient geological structures created when vast pieces of space rock ploughed into our planet.
The largest of these meteors were likely to have been more than 100 kilometres in diameter. They would have collided with Earth when it was still relatively young, about 3.5 billion years ago.
The evidence comes in the form of tiny grains of the mineral zircon. An analysis published in the journal Nature suggests that samples recovered from a key region of Western Australia carry the signs of a large meteorite strike. “Meteorite impacts do everything required to make continents,” Tim Johnson, who led the study at Curtin University in Perth, said. “We are extremely excited by these findings.” Over the 4.5 billion years that our planet has existed its appearance has altered dramatically. Roughly 335 million years ago, for instance, three masses of land – known as Gondwana, Euramerica and Siberia – are thought to have come together to form the supercontinent of Pangea. About 200 million years ago Pangea broke apart, ultimately leading to the continents we know today.
– THE TIMES OF LANDON