Crater from UK’s biggest meteorite 1.2 billion years ago discovered in Scotland

The meteorite hit the UK 1.2 billion years ago (Picture: Getty)

Scientists have discovered the impact crater of the largest ever meteorite to hit the UK.

The piece of rock was 1km wide and weighed 3 billion tonnes and hit 1.2 billion years ago.

The strike smashed into the Minch Basin between the isles of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides and the town of Ullapool, Scotland.

The meteorite would have travelled at a speed of 40,000mph and hit the Earth with a force almost 1 billion times that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

Evidence of the ancient meteorite strike was first found in the area in 2008 by scientists from Oxford and Aberdeen universities, but now they have pinpointed its exact location.

The crater was found in Scotland (Picture: Oxford University)

The meteorite left a crater that is 40km wide.

In a paper published in the Journal of the Geological Society, a team led by Dr Ken Amor from the Department of Earth Sciences at Oxford University showed how hey have identified the crater location in a remote part of the Scottish coastline.

The crater is buried under both water and younger rocks in the Minch Basin.

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Dr Amor said: “The material excavated during a giant meteorite impact is rarely preserved on Earth, because it is rapidly eroded, so this is a really exciting discovery.

“It was purely by chance this one landed in an ancient rift valley where fresh sediment quickly covered the debris to preserve it.

“The next step will be a detailed geophysical survey in our target area of the Minch Basin.”

The meteorite hit the Earth at 40,000mph (Picture: PA)

Using a combination of field observations, the distribution of broken rock fragments known as basement clasts and the alignment of magnetic particles, the team was able to gauge the direction the meteorite material took at several locations, and plotted the likely source of the crater.

Dr Amor said: “It would have been quite a spectacle when this large meteorite struck a barren landscape, spreading dust and rock debris over a wide area.”

Scientists believe the landscape would have looked a bit like Mars at the time the meteorite struck.

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