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Did a meteorite hit the Earth 50,000 years ago?

A new crater nearly 2 kilometers in diameter has been discovered in northeast China.

50,000 years ago, an asteroid more than 100 meters in diameter washed up on Chinese lands. Spotted recently by researchers from the Middle Kingdom, this crater could be the largest ever discovered on Earth. Indeed, if larger meteorites have already washed up on our planet, it was a very long time ago and the crater they formed ended up disappearing due to erosion through the millennia. The largest meteorite crater is thus located in South Africa and it measures more than 300 kilometers in diameter, but the impact being so old, 2 billion years ago, that hardly any trace remains any more. crater.

But this new crater, located in Yilan County City, Heilongjiang Province, is at the heart of one of the best-preserved forest areas in northeast China. Known for millennia by local populations, this crater measures 1.85 kilometers in diameter and 579 meters deep. Today, researchers believe that only the southern edge of the crater has collapsed over time, the rest of the edge being very well preserved.

A powerful impact

According to the results of the study, the impact on the ground would have been so violent that it would have raised tons of granite, approximately 400 million cubic meters. The researchers explain the very advanced level of fragmentation of the granite found on site and further proof of the immense violence of the impact.

This discovery is a huge opportunity for geologists and historians. Indeed, it is rare to find craters so young. According to the first analyzes carried out by the researchers, this is the biggest meteorite impact of the last 100,000 years. At the time of the impact, the Chinese land was already populated, which means that humans experienced this event live. It is nevertheless impossible to know if people perished during the impact, no trace can be found following an explosion of such violence, and the writings did not yet exist 50,000 years ago which does not allow to retrace the history of this meteorite.

Today the Earth has nearly 200 craters of all sizes, but few are in as good condition as the one in Heilongjiang. It is only the second crater found in China by geologists who will continue their research in the northeast of the country. A wooded area of ​​China that has changed little over the past few centuries.

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