430,000 years ago, a 100-meter meteorite exploded in Antarctica

An international research team led by Dr. Mathias van Ginneken of the University of Kent’s School of Physical Sciences has found new evidence of a meteorite falling that reached the Antarctic ice sheet 430,000 years ago.

Extraterrestrial particles (condensation spherules) found at the summit of Valnumfjellet (Western North America) in the Sør-Rondane Mountains, Queen Maud Land, East Antarctica indicate an unusual landing event where a jet of molten and vaporized meteorite material was created by an asteroid the size of not less than 100 m, which reached the surface at high speed.

This type of explosion, caused by a single asteroid impact, is described as intermediate in that it is larger than an air explosion but smaller than an impact crater.

The bulk of the chondrite, the chemical composition of trace elements and the high nickel content of the debris demonstrate the extraterrestrial nature of the recovered particles. Their unique oxygen isotopic signatures indicate that they interacted with oxygen obtained from the Antarctic ice sheet during their formation in the shock plume.

The data obtained indicate a much more dangerous impact than the Tunguska and Chelyabinsk events over Russia in 1908 and 2013, respectively.