Meteorites – Sudbury Impact

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About two billion years ago, an object the size of Mount Everest hit the earth in the region now known as Sudbury, in Ontario, Canada. It was an event on a scale that defies the imagination. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“I think the best analog if you wanted to propose any recent event on Earth which you could compare in terms of the experience you would have, it would have to be the largest thermonuclear aboveground test that’s ever been conducted because the release of energy and the subsequent shockwave and atmospheric effects from a nuclear explosion are more like a meteorite impact than any other phenomenon that ever occurs on Earth.”

James Edward Mungall is and an Associate Professor in the Department of Geology at the University of Toronto.

“Imagine a hydrogen bomb test which would leave a crater in the ground 300 kilometers in diameter and five kilometers deep filled by a lake of molten rock five kilometers deep. It’s an event which is really impossible to imagine. You can’t really imagine what it would sound like because if you were close enough to hear it, it would kill you. You can’t imagine what it would look like because if you were close enough to see it, it would vaporize you.”

“If you were thousands of kilometers away from a meteorite impact of this magnitude when it occurred, you would become aware of it, first of all, as a sheet of glowing red or white material rising in the sky and coming right over top of you and causing all of the vegetation around you to burst into flames because of the radiant heat being emitted by this curtain of ejected material. This is what we think happened in North America when the dinosaurs became extinct. The crater is in Mexico, and the spray of molten and vaporized material that was splashed out of the crater flew out over North America and caused the whole continent to burst into flames. In the whole span of human existence we just have to hope that it never happens.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation .

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Meteorites - Sudbury Impact

Think our weather is bad? At least what falls from the sky doesn't feel like a nuclear explosion!
Air Date:01/12/2006
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience

About two billion years ago, an object the size of Mount Everest hit the earth in the region now known as Sudbury, in Ontario, Canada. It was an event on a scale that defies the imagination. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"I think the best analog if you wanted to propose any recent event on Earth which you could compare in terms of the experience you would have, it would have to be the largest thermonuclear aboveground test that’s ever been conducted because the release of energy and the subsequent shockwave and atmospheric effects from a nuclear explosion are more like a meteorite impact than any other phenomenon that ever occurs on Earth."

James Edward Mungall is and an Associate Professor in the Department of Geology at the University of Toronto.

"Imagine a hydrogen bomb test which would leave a crater in the ground 300 kilometers in diameter and five kilometers deep filled by a lake of molten rock five kilometers deep. It’s an event which is really impossible to imagine. You can’t really imagine what it would sound like because if you were close enough to hear it, it would kill you. You can’t imagine what it would look like because if you were close enough to see it, it would vaporize you."

"If you were thousands of kilometers away from a meteorite impact of this magnitude when it occurred, you would become aware of it, first of all, as a sheet of glowing red or white material rising in the sky and coming right over top of you and causing all of the vegetation around you to burst into flames because of the radiant heat being emitted by this curtain of ejected material. This is what we think happened in North America when the dinosaurs became extinct. The crater is in Mexico, and the spray of molten and vaporized material that was splashed out of the crater flew out over North America and caused the whole continent to burst into flames. In the whole span of human existence we just have to hope that it never happens."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation .

music