Thursday 5 August 2021

Meteorite impact in Yorkshire 35 million years ago


The Silver Pit Crater was formed around 35 million years ago scientists announced in August 2002. It was smaller than the one that killed the dinosaurs but it is very important to us because it is not only the first impact crater identified in or near Britain, but it’s a Yorkshire meteorite crater!

The meteorite would have been travelling at about 25 miles per second when it struck the Earth, and was about 120 metres across and weighed around 2 million tons, it crashed into what is now the North Sea about 60 miles off the Yorkshire coast, this I think is close enough to be classified as Yorkshire!

This impact would have devastated the area around what is now Britain, northern Europe and Scandinavia. The crater which is called the Silver Pit Crater is about 1.5 miles wide. At the time that the meteorite struck this area was still under about 150 metres of water, the crater is now located about 0.5 miles under the sea bed covered by shale and sand. The name Silver pit comes from a long valley called the Silver Pit Valley which is in the bed of the North Sea.

It was discovered in 2002 by a company looking for new oil and gas fields. While looking for these resources the oil and gas companies produce three-dimensional maps which tell them whether or not it is worth drilling in the area. It was during the course of this routine exploration that the data collected indicated that there was a crater below the sea bed in the North Sea. The 3D map shows a spectacular set or rings sweeping out around the crater.

Silver Pit Crater

There are suggestions that the ring like structures of the crater that have been discovered are rare on craters discovered on Earth, however they do appear to be similar to those that are seen on Europa and Calisto two of the large icy moons that orbit Jupiter. These are moons that scientists speculate could be places where life might exist in our solar system. Europa and Calisto are two of the four large moons that were discovered by Galileo back in 1609 when he first used his telescope to look at the night sky. The other two moons he discovered are Io and Ganymede.

It all depends on what is under the icy surface of these moons, and we can’t be certain yet, however there could be could be some kind of layered briny ocean, scientists believe that under the Silver Pit crater, there are layers of shale. It could possibly be that these layers are causing these ring features both on Jupiter’s moons and around the Silver Pit crater. The theory being put forward is that is that it is this layering effect below the surface that causes these rings to appear. I wonder if it is possible that by studying this 35 million year old Yorkshire crater scientists can try to better understand what is going on under two of the large moons of Jupiter which are over 480 million miles away!

No comments:

Post a Comment