It’s said that time heals all wounds, and apparently that even applies to wounds on the Earth itself. Woodleigh Crater in Western Australia could be one of the largest impact craters on the planet, but getting an exact measure is hard when there’s hundreds of millions of years of dirt and rock swept over the top of it. But now, researchers from Curtin University have discovered new evidence that the crater could be bigger than previously thought – thanks to the presence of one of the rarest minerals ever found.
The Woodleigh Crater is believed to have formed during the Late Devonian period about 360 million years ago, but nailing down its size is difficult because it isn’t exposed at the surface. Estimates have placed its diameter anywhere from 60 to 160 km (37.3 to 99.4 mi), and if it’s found to be towards the upper end of that scale, it would be the largest crater in Australia and one of the largest in the world.
But rather than breaking out the tape measure, the Curtin researchers found new evidence while studying the geology of the impact site. In core samples drilled from the center of the crater, the team found reidite, a mineral that’s so incredibly rare it’s only been found in five other places around the world.
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