Miners in Western Australia have struck gold in a new way after discovering a massive meteorite crater that geologists estimate to be 100 million years old. Located near the Goldfields mining town of Ora Banda, this three-mile crater is now one of the largest in the world.
How could such a massive crater go undiscovered for so long? Well, unlike other meteorite craters in Australia, including the famous Wolfe Creek Crater, this one is not visible from the surface. The yet-to-be-named crater was found using electromagnetic surveys, which map the rocks below the surface.
“This discovery was made in an area where the landscape is very flat. You wouldn’t know it was there because the crater has been filled in over geological time,” Perth-based geologist and geophysicist Dr. Jason Meyers told Matador Network. “There’s probably quite a few more out there.”
According to ABC, Dr. Meyers, who has over 30 years of experience in the field, was brought in for a geological consult on the suspected impact site. Examining rock samples from the area, Meyers found “tell-tale signs” of a meteorite strike, including “shatter cones.”
"In geology, you tell someone you found a meteorite crater and they immediately roll their eyes and are very skeptical because they're so rare," he told ABC. "But when you see shatter cones you know because they only form in nuclear blasts or meteorite impacts.”
Dr. Meyers estimates that the meteorite that formed this crater was anywhere from 320 to 660 ft. in diameter. He also told ABC that modern technology facilitates discoveries like this much more easily than in the past, and he suspects there are many more craters to be found in Western Australia. In fact, he’s currently working on confirming another possible meteorite impact site in Coolgardie — just an hour and a half south of Ora Banda.
The only way to confirm this theory, however, is through drilling.
"I can say 'watch this space' as we have found a few others, but we just haven't drilled them yet," he said.
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