Debris from massive asteroid is uncovered

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The Independent Online

Scientists at a geological site near Bristol have unearthed evidence of a massive prehistoric explosion millions of times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

Scientists at a geological site near Bristol have unearthed evidence of a massive prehistoric explosion millions of times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

An asteroid more than three miles wide that crashed into what is now north-east Canada at a speed of 10 miles per second 214 million years ago ejected a plume of debris that settled over the British Isles.

It is the first time scientists in Britain have detected a layer of impact debris from an asteroid collision. A similar collision 65 million years ago is thought to have contributed to the end of dinosaurs, allowing the rise of warm-blooded mammals including man.

The latest discovery is from a much earlier collision and is a result of a catastrophic impact that vaporised rock and spewed a sea of molten glass droplets half way across the world.

George Walkden, who led the research team from the University of Aberdeen and the Open University, said the droplets of molten glass became fossilised as a layer two centimetres thick, now eight metres below ground.

"We have found evidence of massive shock waves carrying molten rock and dust that has left a thin layer of glass beads and shattered mineral grains across the ancient British land surface,'' he added.

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