Moon-like craters found in US from 'mega-impact BEFORE dinosaurs'

A CLUSTER of craters never before seen on Earth has been discovered in the US state of Wyoming, according to a new study.

The study, entitled Secondary cratering on Earth: The Wyoming impact crater field, was published in the Geological Society of America Bulletin last week.

The discovery was made in a 40km by 90km area that scientists call the Wyoming Impact Crater Field, just outside the cities of Casper and Douglas.

According to the team of researchers, which consists of both American and German scientists, the field of several dozen craters is thought to have formed from some sort of powerful impact approximately 280 million years ago.

The scientists also seem to believe that the 31 craters, which measure between 10−70 meters in diameter, are 'secondary craters' stemming from a larger primary crater.

According to the study, the secondary craters are perplexing to researchers because while they contained "corresponding shock features," they were missing meteorite relics.

However, the researchers believe that they might have potentially formed via "ejecta," or ejected material, from the primary crater.

"The trajectories indicate a single source and show that the craters were formed by ejected blocks from a large primary crater," project leader Thomas Kenkmann, professor of geology at the University of Freiburg, Germany said.

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Also perplexing is that secondary craters are typically found on celestial bodies like the Moon and Mars as they contain zero-to-thin atmospheres, so finding them on Earth, which has a thick atmosphere, is a strange and rare occurrence.

"Here, for the first time, evidence is provided that secondary cratering has been possible on Earth," the scientists note in the study.

"Secondary craters around larger craters are well known from other planets and moons but have never been found on Earth," Kenkmann said.

Secondary impact craters differ from primary craters in that they possess more shallow depth, as well as ray-like patterns.

The team of scientists explained in the study that they used satellites, drones, geological fieldwork, microscopic analysis, and modeling to gather their data.

As a potential next step, the team proposed a "comprehensive geophysical survey of the deep northern Denver basin" to locate the primary crater.

They also encouraged the hydrocarbon exploration industry to "actively support and accompany the search for the primary crater and to report unusual occurrences.”

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