Scientists uncover possible meteor crash site dating back almost 500 million years

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 12:48 PM CDT
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Scientists at the University of Minnesota said they have discovered the site of a massive meteorite crash from about 500 million years ago.

What was supposed to be a typical geologic re-mapping of Dakota County by scientists at the Minnesota Geological Survey turned into something out of this world.

Geologist Julia Steenberg said she believes they found the site of a meteor crash.

“This is an old blast in the past,” she said.

The crater under Inver Grove Heights spans about two and a half miles wide and dates back 490 million years.

“One to several football fields would be the size of the meteorite that would have hit,” Steenberg said.

No one can tell from above the ground, but many who have driven on Highway 52 have likely passed by the meteor site. The real evidence can only be found about 350 feet below ground.

“We noticed the grains of sands had a very particular look, like they were shocked or fractured, and some of the data showed the rocks were actually inverted,” Steenberg said.

They’re calling it the Pine Bend Impact. If verified, it would be the first meteor site in Minnesota, among just 190 sites worldwide.

Scientists estimate the area of the crater is 11 times the size of the iconic Meteor Crater National Landmark in Arizona.

For those concerned about any more meteor impacts, Steenberg said there’s not much to worry about.

“It’s not something that we need to necessarily worry about in our lifetimes, but to know it could happen and that NASA is even exploring ways to stop it happening is really interesting,” Steenberg said.

About one-third of all known meteor sites are buried, like the one in Minnesota.

Steenberg said she is trying to get her findings published to get the site added to the official count.