University of Saskatchewan researchers have unearthed evidence of a massive crater that formed when a meteorite crashed into it many millions of years ago.
According to NBC News
, the site of the impact measures 15 miles (25 kilometers) across and was dubbed the Prince Albert crater after the peninsula on which it was found.
It isn't quite clear how long ago the meteorite hit, but researchers are suggesting the crater is 130 to 350 million years old based on the evidence they picked up.
U of S geologist Brian Pratt, along with Keith Dewing, from Geological Survey of Canada, have been trying to map out the crater since they discovered it two years ago on the northwestern tip of Victoria Island reports CNews
. The duo came across it while surveying the area on a helicopter.
They noticed what are called "shatter cones," which are
"large, radiating cracks formed by the impact of a meteorite slamming into the Earth."
"Unless you recognized the telltale clues, you wouldn't know what you were looking at," Pratt pointed out
. "You might see a bunch of broken rocks and wonder how they got there."
They also noted the site of impact "is characteristically circular
This is Canada's 30th known meteor impact crater says Eye on the Arctic
; there are about 160 of them known worldwide.
"It's another piece of the cosmic Earth puzzle," said Pratt
. "Impact craters like this give us clues into how the Earth's crust is recycled and the speed of erosion, and may be implicated in episodes of widespread extinction of animals in the geological past."
Meteors themselves are pieces of asteroids or comets that make their way into the Earth's atmosphere. While most of them are diminutive in size and burn up on the way down, some do actually make it to the ground. The ones that make it that far are then known as meteorites.