What happens when a large meteor crashes into the Earth? The impact of a large meteorite releases an enormous amount of energy that evaporates, melts and fractures areas surrounding the impact over distances that can range over hundreds of kilometers. Although the subject of abundant recent interest, little is directly known about the propagation of damage during these events.
Three researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have come up with a new picture of damage propagation, which explains the distinctive rock deformations generated by the high-energy shockwaves produced in these extreme conditions. These results provide new insight into meteor impact dynamics as well as dissipative mechanisms in materials subjected to sudden, extremely intense fluxes of energy. Using these results, analysis of deformed rock structures surrounding the site of an intense explosion or impact can provide a quantitative measure of its strength – even if the event occurred a billion years ago.
These findings will be published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature on Thursday, July 18, in the article, “Dynamic Fracture by Large Extraterrestrial Impacts as the Origin of Shatter Cones,” by Ph.D. candidate Amir Sagy, Physics Prof. Jay Fineberg and Geology Prof. Ze’ev Reches.
Heidi Gleit | Hebrew University
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