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Crater in Alberta

Large, ancient meteorite crater discovered in southeastern Alberta

Digital writers

Thursday, May 8, 2014, 10:28 AM - Scientists have discovered a large and ancient meteorite crater in southeastern Alberta.

Doug Schmitt, a University of Alberta researcher, says a "large chunk of space debris crashed into the earth about 60-million years ago, 30-kilometres southwest of what's now the city of Brooks," according to The Canadian Press.

The huge chunk of space debris was likely the size of an entire apartment block.

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A hole eight kilometres wide and two and a half kilometres deep was the result of the crash.

Schmitt says the resulting blast would have been 200 times stronger than the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated, The Canadian Press adds.

That's strong enough to give anything living within 200 km first-degree burns.

Years of erosion have left little of the buried crater, and Schmitt says the accidental discovery was just luck.

It was initially discovered by a geologist doing some routine work on a map of the area in 2009, when a "funny, doughnut-shaped thing" appeared.

Schmitt and his lab were then called in and realized it was most likely to be an impact crater with evidence of where the meteorite would have struck.

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Schmitt says they could see features that you would expect from a large meteorite impact including a distinctive central peak.

Officials can't predict exactly how old or big it is, but estimate the crater would have been formed within the past 70 million years.

Schmitt said the crater is a rare opportunity to study the floor of an impact crater.

A smaller crater was also discovered near Whitecourt, Alberta in 2007 and according to Schmitt, "there's probably many, many more."

With files from The Canadian Press

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