The crater off Africa may have been left by a small cousin of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs

The crater off Africa may have been left by a small cousin of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs

Mysterious crater found in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa may have been left by the asteroid’s tiny cousin that killed dinosaurs 66 million years ago

  • An impact crater has been found about as old as one left by dinosaur killers
  • Dubbed Nadir Crater, new feature discovered off the coast of Guinea in West Africa
  • The site is nearly 1,000 feet below the ocean floor and is 5.2 miles across
  • Experts believe the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs may have had a companion

A mysterious crater found in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa may have been left behind by the asteroid’s tiny cousin that killed dinosaurs 66 million years ago, scientists say.

The new feature, named Nadir Crater, was discovered 248 miles (400 km) off the coast of Guinea in West Africa.

It is about 300 m below the sea floor and has a diameter of 8.5 km.

The impact site is not as large as the Chicxulub crater in Mexico left by the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, but it is of a very similar age.

It has raised questions as to whether more than one space rock struck Earth during this cataclysmic period in natural history.

If confirmed, it would also be of great scientific interest, as it would be one of the few known asteroid impacts in the ocean, which could provide new insights into what happens during such a collision.

The sink was created by Dr. Uisdean Nicholson of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, who analyzed seismic survey data to better understand past climatic changes on Earth.

Mystery: A crater found in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa may have been left by the asteroid’s tiny cousin that killed the dinosaurs, scientists say (stock image)

The impact site is not as large as the Chicxulub crater in Mexico left by the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, but it is of a very similar age.  It is about 300 m below the seabed

The impact site is not as large as the Chicxulub crater in Mexico left by the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, but it is of a very similar age. It is about 300 m below the seabed

KEY FEATURES OF NADIR CRATER

Location: 400 km (248 miles) off the coast of Guinea in West Africa

Depth: 300 m (1,000 feet) below the seabed

Diameter: 8.5 km

Asteroid Size: 400 m (1,300 ft)

Cousin? Chicxulub Crater

‚ÄúThese investigations are something like an ultrasound of the earth. I’ve probably spent the last 20 years interpreting them, but I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dr. Nicholson to BBC News.

“Nadir’s shape is indicative of an asteroid impact.

“It has a raised rim surrounding a central raised area, and then layers of debris extending outward.”

The crater is just over 8 km wide and Dr. Nicholson believes it was probably caused by an asteroid more than 400m wide that smashed into the Earth’s crust.

This one was therefore much smaller than the city-sized space rock that caused the 100-mile-wide Chicxulub crater.

“Our simulations indicate that this crater was formed by the collision of a 400 m wide asteroid in 500 to 800 m water depth,” said Dr. Veronica Bray from the University of Arizona.

“This would have triggered a tsunami over a kilometer high and an earthquake of magnitude 6.5 or so.

Location: Dubbed Nadir Crater, the new feature was discovered 248 miles (400 km) off the coast of Guinea in West Africa

Location: Dubbed Nadir Crater, the new feature was discovered 248 miles (400 km) off the coast of Guinea in West Africa

The depression (pictured) was designed by Dr.  Uisdean Nicholson of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, who analyzed seismic survey data to better understand past climatic changes on Earth

The depression (pictured) was designed by Dr. Uisdean Nicholson of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, who analyzed seismic survey data to better understand past climatic changes on Earth

“The energy released would have been about 1,000 times greater than that of the January 2022 eruption and tsunami in Tonga.”

Nadir was identified using “seismic reflection” as part of a larger project to reconstruct the Cretaceous tectonic separation of South America from Africa.

To be sure the crater was caused by an asteroid impact, Dr. Nicholson that scientists need to drill into the crater and test minerals from its floor.

However, it has all the features that experts would expect, including the correct ratio of crater width to depth, the height of the rims, and the height of the central ridge.

The latter is a mound in the center formed by rock and sediment pushed upwards by the shock pressure.

The discovery of the nadir crater feature was published in the journal Science Advances.

KILLING THE DINOSAURS: HOW A CITY-SIZED ASTEROID KILLED 75 PERCENT OF ALL ANIMAL AND PLANT SPECIES

Around 66 million years ago, non-avian dinosaurs became extinct, wiping out more than half of the world’s species.

This mass extinction paved the way for the rise of mammals and the appearance of humans.

The asteroid Chicxulub is often cited as a possible cause of the Cretaceous and Paleogene extinction events.

The asteroid crashed into a shallow sea in what is now the Gulf of Mexico.

The collision released a huge cloud of dust and soot that triggered global climate change and wiped out 75 percent of all animal and plant species.

Researchers claim that the soot needed for such a global catastrophe could only have been produced by direct impact on rocks in shallow waters around Mexico, which are particularly rich in hydrocarbons.

Experts believe a massive tsunami punctured the Gulf Coast within 10 hours of impact.

Around 66 million years ago, non-avian dinosaurs became extinct, wiping out more than half of the world's species.  The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a possible cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction events (stock image)

Around 66 million years ago, non-avian dinosaurs became extinct, wiping out more than half of the world’s species. The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a possible cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction events (stock image)

This caused earthquakes and landslides in areas as far north as Argentina.

Investigating the event, researchers found small pieces of rock and other debris shot into the air as the asteroid crashed.

These small particles, called globules, covered the planet in a thick layer of soot.

Experts explain that the loss of sunlight led to a complete collapse of the aquatic system.

Because the phytoplankton base of almost all aquatic food chains would have been eliminated.

The more than 180 million years of evolution that brought the world to the Cretaceous is believed to have been destroyed in less than the lifetime of a Tyrannosaurus rex, which is around 20 to 30 years.