Analysis of the Yarrabubba meteor crater’s age in Australia has revealed it to be 2.229 billion years old, making it the oldest known crater currently according to the NASA scientist who led the research on the crater.
"It's 200 million years older than the previously oldest known crater, which was the over 200-kilometre Vredefort Dome crater in South Africa," said Timmons Erickson, a research scientist with the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science division, or ARES, at NASA's Johnson Space Center located in Houston.
The Earth has over 190 major craters but scientists have only been able to figure out a few crater’s ages. Erickson made the discovery with his team that included Christopher Kirkland, Nicholas
Timms and Aaron Cavosie from Curtin University and Thomas Davison from Imperial College London. Their findings were recently announced in the journal Nature Communications. The environmental development and the history of our planet are likely to have been impacted by these meteor impacts and scientists are interested in dating the age of the meteor strikes to confirm several theories.
"Scientists wonder how meteor impacts might relate to the formation of the continents. We also would like to know when the frequency of meteor impacts declined to the point where life could emerge and thrive," said Erickson. "These are all big questions in the field of science," he added.
The Yarrabubba structure is located in Western Australia is a very remote region. The original crater is estimated to have been around 70 kilometers across although it’s only 20 kilometers today.
In order to determine the age of the crater, scientists look for rocks that show signs of the shock and heat of a meteor strike.