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Big 250 mya Crater Found In Antarctica


COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 1 (UPI) -- U.S. planetary scientists report finding evidence of a meteor impact much larger than the one believed responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs.

The 300-mile-wide crater lies more than a mile beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and might date to about 250 million years ago -- the time of the Permian-Triassic extinction, when nearly all animal life on Earth became extinct.

Its size and location -- in the Wilkes Land region of East Antarctica, south of Australia -- suggest it could have begun the breakup of the Gondwana supercontinent by creating the tectonic rift that pushed Australia northward.

Scientists believe the Permian-Triassic extinction paved the way for dinosaurs to rise to prominence. The Wilkes Land crater is more than five times the size of the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan peninsula, which marks the impact that may have ultimately killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Ohio State University researchers who made the discovery collaborated with the National Aeornautics and Space Administration, Russian and South Korean scientists in the study.

The preliminary results of their research were presented during a recent poster session at the American Geophysical Union Joint Assembly meeting in Baltimore.