In a recent scientific discovery, a scientist from NASA, Timmons Erickson studied and determined the age of the Yarrabubba meteor crater in Australia to be 2.229 billion years old, making it the oldest crater to be discovered by scientists. According to reports, the Yarrabubba crater is 200 million years older than the Vredefort Dome crater in South Africa, which was regarded as the world's oldest until this discovery.
According to reports, scientists analyse and date the age of past meteor strikes because such impacts by meteors play an important part in understanding the history of Earth. Erikson said scientists are interested in knowing about how meteor strike impacts might be involved in helping the formation of continents. The NASA scientist further added, scientists are also interested in knowing about the period when the frequency of meteor strikes declined to a point when life started thriving on earth.
The research was lead by Timmons Erickson with a team from Curtin University, Australia and Imperial College, London. According to reports, in order to determine the age of the crater, the team looked for samples of rocks that showed evidence of being subject to shock and heat due to a meteor strike. Although, the team collected samples of rock containing two distinct materials i.e. zircon and monazite.
Both the minerals are a form of crystals that contain uranium and lead, the ratio of which can be used by scientists to date the age of the rock. According to reports, the research team used an electron microscope to analyse crystals that were melted by the meteor impact. It is then the scientists measured the uranium and lead present in the crystals to determine their age that turned out to be 2.229 billion years old.
The Yarrabubba crater in Australia is an impact structure and is the eroded remains of a previous impact crater. The crater is located in the northern Yilgarn Craton near Yarrabubba Station between the towns of Sandstone and Meekatharra, Australia. Its 2.229 billion years of age places the incident at the end of the first age when Earth was mostly frozen and is commonly known as the Huronian Glaciation.