Download: Fast, Fun, Awesome
study in australia
student information in australia
Australian University graduate information
professional networking for australian university students
employment links for australian university students
University quizzes for australian students

UQ researcher discovers giant asteroid impact

A geothermal energy researcher from the University of Queensland (UQ) has found evidence of a major asteroid impact that occurred more than 300 million years ago in the South Australian outback.


Big Asteriod Impact Simulation

The asteroid, which produced a shock zone at least 80km wide, could be the second-largest asteroid ever found in Australia.

UQ’s Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence researcher, Dr Tonguç Uysal, discovered the asteroid impact during his studies of the Cooper Basin, which is a large geothermal energy resource being developed in Australia on the border between Queensland and South Australia.

“I noticed that the quartz grains in the rock had unusual planar deformation features that indicated either it had been exposed to extreme tectonic pressure or a large asteroid impact,” Dr Uysal said.

The rock deformations were confirmed as being the result of an asteroid impact through microscopic examination of the quartz crystals and further laboratory tests conducted by Dr Andrew Glikson, from the Australian National University.

“The results suggest that either a very large asteroid or a cluster of asteroids landed, but we need to do further testing to verify this,” Dr Uysal said.

“The impact of the asteroid triggered a huge explosion and caused the ground water to boil and induce chemical and mineralogy changes in the surrounding rocks.

“This may have resulted in the reconcentration of various heat-producing elements which has made the Cooper Basin such a rich source of geothermal energy today,” he said.

The land surface that the asteroid hit is now buried under layers of sedimentary rock and Dr Uysal thinks the original crater most likely eroded away.

Dr Uysal said further studies of rock samples from drill holes in the Cooper Basin were required to more accurately map the extent of the impact area, which is estimated to be at least 80km wide.

Further research will also allow estimation of the size of the asteroid that caused the impact.

Australia’s largest recorded asteroid impact is at Woodleigh, east of Shark Bay in Western Australia and according to Dr Glikson, the Woodleigh impact structure (120 km in diameter) was produced by an asteroid six to 12 kilometres across, about 360 million years ago.

Dr Uysal and Dr Glikson will present their findings at the Australian Geothermal Energy Conference in Adelaide, 16-19 November 2010.

The Queensland Government has invested $15 million in the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence, and the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Mr Stephen Robertson congratulated Dr Uysal and Dr Glikson on their discovery.

“The Government has funded the Centre to learn more about the potential of hot dry rocks as a clean energy source and to be able to find evidence of a major asteroid impact during their geothermal research is a bonus discovery,” Mr Robertson said.

To read more about their research, see their conference paper.

Media: Dr Tonguç Uysal (07 3365 2819 or 0421 041 738, t.uysal@uq.edu.au), Dr Andrew Glikson (0439 085 833 or 02 6296 3853, andrew.glikson@anu.edu.au) or Ms Izzy Koh, UQ’s Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology (07 3346 7696 or i.koh@uq.edu.au)

Leave a reply

Feature Research
Controlling fear by modifying DNA

For many people, fear of flying or of spiders skittering across the lounge room floor is more than just a [more]

Kidney disease gene controls cancer highway

University of Queensland researchers have discovered that a gene that causes kidney disease also controls growth of the lymphatic system, [more]

Queensland fraud is a billion dollar business

Queensland businesses could be losing over $12 billion per annum as a result of company fraud according to a recent study [more]

Inside the mind of a burglar

Burglars are opportunistic, generally choose their targets at random and know all the tricks householders try to use as deterrents, [more]

Flight experiment goes boldly forth to advance new technology

A hypersonic flight experiment at eight times the speed of sound, led by a University of Queensland PhD student, has [more]

Pre-drinking alcohol before hitting the nightclubs likely to lead to violence

The increasingly common practice of drinking at home before hitting the nightclubs is the major predictor of people experiencing harm [more]

Research reveals women are more interested in a man’s earning capacity than the size of his wallet

Despite ABBA’s insistence that women long for “money, money, money”, research has found that The Beatles were on the [more]

Challenges still face women seeking seniority in business

Research conducted by the UTS Centre for Corporate Governance underpinning the 2012 Australian Census of Women in Leadership reveals a decade [more]

Swiss Army Knife teeth secret to seal’s success

Biologists have shown how an advanced set of teeth give Antarctic leopard seals the biological tools to feast on prey [more]

Beautiful physics: Tying knots in light

New research published today seeks to push the discovery that light can be tied in knots to the next level. [more]