It has been confirmed that the hottest rock ever recorded on Earth originated from a massive meteorite impact some 36 million years ago.
Scientists say the fist-sized piece of black glass formed at temperatures reaching 4,298 ° F (2,370 ° C), warmer than much of our planet’s mantle.
It was first discovered in 2011 in what is now the Labrador, CanadaBefore being described by scientists in 2017 as if it had been heated to the hottest temperature ever known for a rock on the surface of the Earth.
This claim has since been confirmed after experts carried out new analyzes of multiple minerals from the same site.
It has been confirmed that the hottest rock on Earth originated from a massive meteor impact some 36 million years ago. Experts say the fist-sized piece of black glass (shown) formed at temperatures reaching 4,298 ° F (2,370 ° C), warmer than much of our planet’s mantle.
In the new study, researchers from Western University in Canada analyzed four other zircons in samples taken from the crater
Record temperatures were caused by an asteroid impact that led to the formation of the 17-mile-wide Mistastin crater in Canada (pictured)
The impact formed the 17-mile (28 km) wide Mistastin crater, where Michael Zanetti, then a doctoral student at Washington University St. Louis, collected the glassy rock during a separate study funded by the Canadian Space Agency.
It was a chance discovery that proved important, after analysis of the rock revealed that it contained zircons, extremely durable minerals that crystallize at high heat.
The structure of the cubic zirconia can show how hot it was when they formed. However, to confirm the initial results, the researchers had to date more than one zircon.
In the new study, researchers from Western University in Canada analyzed four other zircons in samples taken from the crater.
These came from different types of rocks in different locations, offering a more comprehensive view of how the impact warmed the ground.
One came from a glassy rock formed in the impact, two others from rocks that melted and re-solidified, and one from a sedimentary rock that contained glass fragments formed in the impact.
The results showed that the impact glass zircons formed with a heat of at least 4,298 ° F (2,370 ° C), just as suggested by the 2017 research.
Furthermore, the sedimentary rock containing glass had been heated to 3,043 ° F (1,673 ° C).
Lead author Gavin Tolometti said so a wide range would help researchers narrow down places to look for hotter rocks in other craters.
“We are starting to realize that if we want to find evidence of such high temperatures, we have to look at specific regions instead of randomly selecting across an entire crater,” he said.
The researchers also found a mineral called reidite inside the crater’s zircon grains.
Researchers identified a collection of zircon grains and baddeleyite crystals in four impact samples from Mistastin Crater in Canada.
One sample analyzed came from a glassy rock formed in the impact, two others from rocks that melted and re-solidified and one from a sedimentary rock that contained glass fragments formed in the impact.
Earth’s record temperature of 2,370 ° C (4,298 ° F) was caused by an asteroid impact
Reidites are formed when zircons undergo high temperatures and pressures and their presence allows experts to calculate the pressures suffered by the rocks in the impact.
The Western University team found that the impact introduced pressures of between 30 and 40 gigapascals, equivalent to 300,000-400,000 bars.
This would have been the pressure at the edges of the impact, the researchers said, meaning that where the meteorite hit the crust directly, the rocks would not simply melt, they would vaporize.
The scientists involved in the study hope to use similar methods to study the rocks reported by impact craters on the moon during the Apollo missions.
“It can be a step forward in trying to understand how rocks have been modified by impact craters throughout the Solar System,” said Tolometti.
The research was published in the journal Earth and planetary sciences letters.
WHAT IS A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS OBJECT?
A potentially dangerous asteroid (PHA) is an asteroid whose orbit approaches 0.05 AU (approximately 7.5 million km) from Earth.
It is also at least 100 meters (300 feet) wide.
The International Astronomical Union says there are about 1,500 potentially dangerous asteroids.
While these do not yet pose a risk to Earth, this large asteroid has the potential to wreak havoc if it lands on our planet, especially in densely populated areas.
One is believed to hit the Earth once every 200 – 300 years.