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There are about 35 million years ago, a meteor traveling almost 144,000 mph (231,000 km/h) smashed into the Atlantic Ocean in the vicinity of the town of Cape Charles, Virginia. The space rock vaporized instantly, but the impact caused a huge tsunami that threw for a season, of broken rock and molten glass across hundreds of miles and carved out the largest crater in the United States of america, called the Chesapeake Bay impact structure.
Today, the 25-km-wide (40-kilometer) crater is buried half a mile beneath the rockies, located south of the Chesapeake Bay, is one of the 200-mile-long (320 km) – river to link Virginia and Maryland to the east coast. That hasn’t stopped scientists trying to piece together the site’s mysterious history, because for the first time, it was discovered during a drilling project in the 1990’s.
In a recent study of ocean sediment cores taken in close to 250 miles (400 km) to the north-east of the impact site, the researchers found traces of the radioactive debris from the time of the strike, which is fresh evidence of the impact of age and have a devastating effect.
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When the Chesapeake Bay impactor smashed into the Atlantic ocean, in the shower, and surrounding it by land and by water, with pieces of melted glass (referred to as “tektites”) for hundreds of miles in every direction. This is a rain of rapid-debris formed what the scientists call the North American tektite strewn field, the authors of the study wrote, which stretches from Texas to Massachusetts, to san juan, which is about 4 million square miles (10 million square km) of the site. The study of the fragments of a fast paced rock to be buried deep in this beautiful area of the impact of the wreck, scientists can gather clues about the asteroid’s main characteristics, such as age.
In a recent study published June 21 in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science), the researchers, from Arizona State University, 21 of microscopic pieces of cubic zirconia — a durable gemstone which can be to survive underground for billions of years. These zircons were placed in a sediment core taken from approximately 2,150 feet (655 meters) below the Atlantic Ocean. Not only is this cubic zirconia is often found in the tektites, however, it is a mineral for radiometric dating, due to a number of the radioactive elemental compounds.
In this case, the researchers used a dating technique called uranium–thorium–helium dating, which looks at how the field of radioactive isotopes, or versions, of the uranium and thorium decay to form helium. By comparison, the ratio of the specific helium, thorium, and uranium isotopes in each mineral in the sample, the researchers calculated approximately how old, the zircon crystal, hard, and began to decline.
The team found that 21 of the crystals varied greatly in the age at which the range of approximately 33-million to 300-million-year-old. The last two samples, which had an average age of around 35 million years old, consistent with previous studies’ estimates of the period of time from the Chesapeake Bay impact. Upon further investigation, it turned out that the zircons also have a cloudy appearance and a deformed surface, the two plates, the minerals that were brought up by the air and the water by a large impact.
The team concluded that it was the crystals were a part of the Memorial, the impact is the path of destruction, confirming that the impact occurred approximately 35 million years ago. In addition, the researchers said, showed that the uranium–thorium–helium dating is a viable method for constraining the age of the old one, the impact of the event, giving scientists a strong tool in order to see to it that our planet is in the long and violent history.
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Originally published on Live Science.