Giant meteor found to have struck Appalachia

Some 200 million to 300 million years ago, an asteroid struck the heart of what is now Appalachia, creating a four-mile-wide crater.

By , Spaceports

  • close
    Some 200 million to 300 million years ago, a meteor struck what is today a country club in the Appalachian mountains, creating a four-mile-wide crater.
    View Caption

The eastern Kentucky town of Middlesboro, as planetary scientists now tell us, is a geological 4-mile wide crater resulting from an asteroid impact some 200-to-300 million years ago with the impact center on the country club site in the heart of the Appalachian mountain community in the Cumberland Gap where Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky come together.

Greater knowledge of the meteor impact has only come to light in recent years through the efforts of Kentucky geologists and planetary scientists from around the world. Just this past spring, the British Broadcasting Corporation featured renowned particle physicist Brian Cox telling English TV-watchers of "the Middlesboro Crater" and the many global dangers associated with thousands of similar asteroids now roaming space.

The Middlesboro Crater is a result of an asteroid-turned-meteor colliding with Earth's upper atmosphere on a trajectory into the Central Appalachian Mountains from a location somewhere near the planet Jupiter. It all happened millions of years before man arrived on Earth with satellite and aerial imagery now confirming the massive crater.

Recommended: Culture and Science

IN PICTURES: Asteroids

The meteor would have been more than 1,500 feet in diameter and upon impact, it would have created a ground impact crater zone nearly four miles in diameter and exactly where the town of Middlesboro is today.

From these theoretical mathematical impact measurements, the immediate environmental impacts may be calculated as understanding of the event grows from geologic and cosmic evidence while adding a cosmic dimension to Central Appalachian Mountain natural history.

Jack Kennedy blogs at Spaceports.

View all of Spaceports posts on the Monitor.

Add/view comments on this post.

IN PICTURES: Asteroids

Related

Fireball found: Chunk of huge meteor that exploded over Wisconsin located

Ancient meteorites in Antarctica could reveal origins of Solar System

Life from meteors?

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best astronomy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. 

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...