Stone monster underground how scientists discovered the footprint of a giant meteorite in Laos

(ORDO NEWS) — In 2020, scientists found a giant crater in Southeast Asia, which is 18 km long and 13 km wide. It is located in a volcanic field in the southeastern part of Laos.

About 800,000 years ago, a real stone monster 1.9 kilometers wide collided with the Earth. Fragments from the impact scattered over 10% of the planet’s surface.

Scientists have found these fragments in the form of glass beads, known as tektites, many times in Asia, Australia and even in Antarctica.

But until recently, researchers could not find the place where the meteorite hit. The search continued for over a century.

It turned out that all this time the crater was hidden under a thick layer of earth in Laos. In a recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists pinpointed the location where they believe a massive space rock crashed.

“There have been so many attempts to find the site of the collision and there have been many suggestions where it could be: from northern Cambodia, to central Laos and even southern China, and from eastern Thailand to Vietnam,” says lead author of the study Kerry Xie.

Scientists have proven that a giant crater is buried underground – which is why the crash site was so difficult to find. When a meteorite hits the Earth, it melts the stones, scattering their “spray” for thousands of kilometers.

Cooling down, the “drops” harden and turn into what scientists call tektites. By investigating the location of tektites, scientists can roughly determine the impact site of the meteorite that created them.

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Brocken Inaglory

Found tektites suggested to scientists that a huge meteorite fell to Earth about 800,000 years ago, somewhere in southeast Asia.

The highest density of tektites was observed in Indochina, a peninsula on which Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are located. There it was decided to look for the crater.

Such a large meteorite should have left a scar at least one and a half kilometers wide and 91.4 meters deep. But impact craters can be hidden under tectonic plates or scraped off the face of the Earth by erosion.

In search of the crater, Xie examined three craters in Cambodia, central Laos, and southern China. But each of them turned out to be tens of millions of years older than the one sought.

Then, in an area of ​​southern Laos called the Bolaven Plateau, researchers discovered lava flows that are between 51,000 and 780,000 years old.

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Kerry See

Eruptions on this 6,000-square-kilometer plateau created a lava layer 300 meters deep, a volcanic field large enough to hide a meteorite crater.

The chemical composition of stones in the volcanic field coincided with the chemical composition of tektites.

Then the gravitational fields near the Bolaven Plateau were measured, as a result of which scientists discovered an underground elliptical zone 90 meters deep, 18 kilometers long and 13 kilometers wide – the desired crater.


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