Canadian-led team disproves ‘world’s oldest crater’ discovery in Greenland

Canadian-led team disproves ‘world’s oldest crater’ discovery in Greenland

TORONTO —
A Canadian-led international team of scientists have disproven what was thought to be the discovery of the ‘world’s older crater’ from a meteorite in Greenland in 2012.

The findings, published in the March issue of “Earth and Planetary Science Letters,” detail that during fieldwork at the Archean Maniitsoq structure in Greenland, the scientists – led by the University of Waterloo’s Chris Yakymchuk – found that the features of the region were “inconsistent with an impact crater,” according to a press release.

A different team of scientists in 2012 had originally identified it as the remnant of a crater formed when a meteorite struck Greenland three billion years ago.

Yakymchuk, who is a professor in Waterloo’s department of earth and environmental sciences, noted in the press release that “zircon crystals in the rock are like little time capsules…they preserve ancient damage caused by shockwaves you get from a meteorite impact. We found no such damage in them.”

The team also found that there were multiple places where the rocks had melted and recrystallized deep within the earth in a process called “metamorphism” – which would occur almost instantly if produced by an impact like a meteorite, but in this case happened 40 million years later than the 2012 team proposed.

“While we were disappointed that we weren’t working in a structure that was the result of a meteorite hitting the planet three billion years ago, science is about advancing knowledge through discovery,” Yakymchuk said.

The latest findings will provide scientific data for resource companies and for Greenland’s prospectors to find new mineral resources, he said.

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