Massive Asteroid Impact Crater in Greenland Occurred a Few Million Years After Dinosaurs Went Extinct

Fieldwork Edge of Greenland Ice Sheet in 2019

Photo from fieldwork at the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet in 2019. Credit: Pierre Beck

Danish and Swedish researchers have dated the enormous Hiawatha impact crater, a 31 km-wide meteorite crater buried under a kilometer of Greenlandic ice. The dating ends speculation that the meteorite impacted after the appearance of humans and opens up a new understanding of Earth’s evolution in the post-dinosaur era.

Ever since 2015, when researchers at the University of Copenhagen’s GLOBE Institute discovered the Hiawatha impact crater in northwestern Greenland, uncertainty about the crater’s age has been the subject of considerable speculation. Could the asteroid have slammed into Earth as recently as 13,000 years ago, when humans had long populated the planet? Could its impact have catalyzed a nearly 1,000-year period of global cooling known as the Younger Dryas?

New analyses performed on grains of sand and rocks from the Hiawatha impact crater by the Natural History Museum of Denmark and the GLOBE Institute at the University of Copenhagen, as well as the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, demonstrate that the answer is no. The Hiawatha impact crater is far older. In fact, a new study published in the journal Science Advances today (March 9, 2022) reports its age to be 58 million years old.

Hiawatha Map

Maps showing the location of the Hiawatha impact crater in northwest Greenland (left) and the shape of Earth’s surface beneath the ice, with the crater clearly visible (right). Credit: University of Copenhagen

“Dating the crater has been a particularly tough nut to crack, so it’s very satisfying that two laboratories in Denmark and Sweden, using different dating methods arrived at the same conclusion. As such, I’m convinced that we’ve determined the crater’s actual age, which is much older than many people once thought,” says Michael Storey of the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

“Determining the new age of the crater surprised us all. In the future, it will help us investigate the impact’s possible effect on climate during an important epoch of Earth’s history” says Dr. Gavin Kenny of the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

Zircon Grain Hiawatha Impact Crater

Crystals of the mineral zircon are tiny time-capsules that record the age of many events in Earth’s history. Dating zircon crystals like this was one of the two methods used to calculate the age of the Hiawatha impact crater. Credit: University of Copenhagen

As one of those who helped discover the Hiawatha impact crater in 2015, Professor Nicolaj Krog Larsen of the GLOBE Institute at the University of Copenhagen is pleased that the crater’s exact age is now confirmed.

“It is fantastic to now know its age. We’ve been working hard to find a way to date the crater since we discovered it seven years ago. Since then, we have been on several field trips to the area to collect samples associated with the Hiawatha impact,” says Professor Larsen

Age revealed by laser beams and grains of sand

No kilometer-thick ice sheet draped Northwest Greenland when the Hiawatha asteroid rammed into Earth surface releasing several million times more energy than an atomic bomb. At the time, the Arctic was covered with a temperate rainforest and wildlife abounded – and temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius were the norm. Eight million years earlier, an even larger asteroid struck present-day Mexico, causing the extinction of Earth’s dinosaurs.

NordSIMS Laboratory

The NordSIMS laboratory at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, one of two labs where analyses were conducted to date the Hiawatha impact crater. Credit: University of Copenhagen

The asteroid smashed into Earth, leaving a thirty-one-kilometer-wide, one-kilometer-deep crater. The crater is big enough to contain the entire city of Washington D.C. Today, the crater lies beneath the Hiawatha Glacier in Northwest Greenland. Rivers flowing from the glacier supplied the researchers with sand and rocks that were superheated by the impact 58 million years ago.

The sand was analyzed at the Natural History Museum of Denmark by heating the grains with a laser until they released argon gas, whereas the rock samples were analyzed at the Swedish Museum of Natural History using uranium-lead dating of the mineral zircon.

Fieldwork Greenland Ice Sheet in 2019

Photo from fieldwork at the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet in 2019. Credit: Joe MacGregor

Clear evidence that the Hiawatha impact disrupted global climate is still lacking. However, the crater’s dating allows the international research team working on the crater to begin testing various hypotheses to better understand what its impact was on both the local and global climate.

Facts:

  • At 31 km across, the Hiawatha impact crater is larger than about 90% of the roughly 200 previously known impact craters on Earth.
  • Although the Hiawatha impact crater is much smaller than the approximately 200 km-wide Chicxulub impact crater in present-day Mexico, which led to the demise of the dinosaurs, it would have devastated the region and may even have had wider consequences for the climate and plant and animal life.
  • When the Hiawatha impact occurred 58 million years ago the Earth had recovered from the catastrophic effects of the Chicxulub impact eight million years earlier and was entering a long-term warming trend that was to last about 5 million years.

Reference: “A Late Paleocene age for Greenland’s Hiawatha impact structure” by Gavin G. Kenny, William R. Hyde, Michael Storey, Adam A. Garde, Martin J. Whitehouse, Pierre Beck, Leif Johansson, Anne Sofie Søndergaard, Anders A. Bjørk, Joseph A. MacGregor, Shfaqat A. Khan, Jérémie Mouginot, Brandon C. Johnson, Elizabeth A. Silber, Daniel K. P. Wielandt, Kurt H. Kjær and Nicolaj K. Larsen, 9 March 2022, Science Advances.
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abm2434

8 Comments on "Massive Asteroid Impact Crater in Greenland Occurred a Few Million Years After Dinosaurs Went Extinct"

  1. Very Interesting.

    Triggerred the following thoughts about the evolution of the planet Earth c,its moon and
    other planets and their moons in the solar system..

    1. Can analyse the radioactive isotope dating methodology of samplesa of Carbon material from all across the planet earth , to deterinie and recreate the jigsaw puzzle of the formation of the Planet in the timeframe over which it is as it is today..

    2. It has formed over a period of time by aggregation of Matter clumping together is space. Matter may have been created from the Energy-Matter equivalence in favour of matter vis-a-vis Energy. Radioactive carbon isotope dating of carbpon material from all parts of the planet, may give us an idea about the age of various parts of the planet used to make up the planet.

    3. This method can also be extended to all other planets and moons in the solar system. If Carbon is not prominent in the composition in these objects , then radioactive istopes of other elemnets can be used to determine thge age of these planets.

    Views expressed are personal and not binding on anyone.

  2. Europe was certainly going through a torrid time with or without u 2 or 3 or 4
    13,634,240,000 anno universo = 65,760,000 after 180,000,000 million years of prosperity its just another day same old same old normal and fine day a bit boring just another day like any other day
    normal conformable usual regular normal boring reality
    enormous reptiles herbivorous behemoths up to 40 metres long co mingled with bi pedal carnivorous titans seas teemed with fanged leviathans and the skies were navigated by leathery winged creatures larger than any birds in present history but in moments this extraordinary abundance of life it was all but obliterated a momentous day in the history of life when out of the blue a giant killer 6 to 8 mile 10 to 12 kilometre wide impact space rock object slammed into what is now the shallow sea of the gulf of Mexico it would have hurled billions of tonnes of molten vapourised rock and cubic miles of asteroid dust and mountains of earth into the atmosphere space sky in all directions and across thousands of kilometres The cloud eventually enveloped earth
    13,635,830,000 anno universo = 65,170,000 annual years ago ukraine kirovohrad oblast boltysh 24 kilometre impact crater 48 45 n 32 10 e
    65,390,000 650,000 years later from chicxulub 1 mile rock the length of three eiffel towers boltysh struck central ukraine 24 kilometre 15 mile wide impact crater 6 kilometre diameter central uplift 140 miles southeast of kiev before u reach the tiny village of bukvarka 48 45 n 32 10 e
    13,635,000,000 anno universo = 65,000,000 annual years ago india pre collision offshore of india shiva crater 500 kilometre impact crater no coordinates given
    13,640,000,000 anno universo = 60,000,000 annual years ago + – 15 million years england north sea silverpit 20 kilometre unconfirmed impact crater dent in the ground 54 14 n 1 51 e
    58,000,000 paleocene epoch
    The irristible force of the incoming bollide 1.25 miles 1.5 2 kilometres diameter met the immovable force of the Greenland landmass of temperate 20 degree Celsius rain forests populated by a variety of trees and inhabited by some of the mammals that became earths dominant land animals after the dinosaur which went extinct aside from their bird descendants
    Northwestern greenland meteorite gouged huge hiawatha crater 19 miles 31 kilometres wide was formed one kilometre deep now 58,000,000 rather than 13,000 years ago One of 25 largest impact craters on earth
    13,649,500,000 anno universo = 50,500,000 annual year ago canada nova scotia montagnais 45 kilometre impact crater 42 53 n 64 13 w
    5 million years and six impacts taking us through the einstein space time continuum of blue planet earth for approximately 5 million years

  3. Babu G. Ranganathan | March 10, 2022 at 9:19 am | Reply

    Babu G. Ranganathan*
    (B.A. Bible/Biology)

    MAKING SENSE OF DINOSAURS AND THE BIBLE

    The Bible doesn’t mention everything under the Sun, but, interestingly, the Bible does give a description of a land animal in the Book of Job 40:15-24 that can only refer to what we now know as a “dinosaur.” The passage in Job says that the animal which God calls “Behemoth” has a tail like a cedar tree (no land animal today has a tail like a cedar tree), and bones that are like tubes of bronze and limbs like the bars of iron.

    Dinosaurs may well have existed in the time of Job who lived only a few hundred years after the worldwide flood described in Genesis. Dinosaurs were created in the sixth day of creation week along with other beasts and man.

    Before the worldwide flood, Noah was commanded to build an ark to save a remnant of human kind and other land forms of life. According to Genesis 6:14-16, the Ark was at least 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. It was one long box that would be stable and couldn’t capsize or overturn during the ravaging period of the flood.

    Noah wasn’t required to take every animal into the Ark, only two of each “kind,” male and female of the land animals. Many of the sea animals would have been able to survive through the flood. The first pair of dogs in the Ark would have carried the recessive and dominant genes for producing all the varieties of dogs we have today. The same would be the case with all the other animals. God says in Genesis 1 ten different times that all life must reproduce after its “kind.” We know from science that there are genetic limits to biological variations in natural species. A dog will always be a dog no matter how many varieties come into being. The genetic and biological similarities between all forms of life are due to a common Designer (God) Who designed similar functions for similar purposes in all of the various forms of life.

    What about “Junk” DNA? The latest science shows that “Junk DNA” isn’t junk after all! It’s we who were ignorant of how useful these segments of DNA really are. Recent scientific research published in scientific journals such as Nature and RNA has revealed that the “non-coding” segments of DNA are essential in regulating gene expression (i.e. how, when, and where genes are expressed in the body).

    God had created species as complete and fully functioning from the very beginning. They couldn’t survive any other way. A half-evolved dog, for example, wouldn’t be able to survive. Darwinian evolutionary theory would have us believe that, by the random forces of nature, partially-evolved species came into existence along with partially-evolved skin, muscles, nerves, tissues, organs and then survived over millions of years as they eventually became complete. What utter nonsense!

    Noah didn’t have to seek for the animals. God said He would bring the animals to Noah. God may very well have caused the animals to hibernate in the Ark so feeding and taking care of them wouldn’t have to be a problem. No doubt, dinosaurs would have very easily fit in the Ark.

    We can surmise from the Bible that conditions on the earth were ideal before the flood, but after the flood the world was a hostile place where severe competition was necessary for animals to survive. God had placed the genes in natural species for limited adaptation in so that they could survive through the changing environment on earth after the flood.

    Genesis 7 says that much of the water that flooded the whole world came from under the ground. We know even today of vast reservoirs of water that are under the earth. Obviously, if the Genesis account is true, there was much greater amount of water underground in the earth’s past. Genesis 7 says that this water burst through the surface of the earth. The colossal effect changed the entire topography and climate of the earth. A major consequence of such a flood would have also been the Ice Age.

    The Old Testament (i.e. Psalm 104) describes God as raising high mountains from the earth after the worldwide flood so that the waters would recede into the ocean basins. The tremendous velocity and pressure from such receding water is what most likely caused the formation of the majestic Grand Canyon packed with its billions of fossils.

    The Bible says that the Ark landed somewhere in the mountains of Ararat where the modern nation of Turkey is now located. There have been reports from individual mountain climbers of having seen the Ark. The eyewitnesses claim that the Ark had split in two. But, there is no concrete evidence yet of the Ark’s existence.

    If we should find the Ark, it would definitely be strong evidence for a worldwide flood. But, even without discovering the Ark we have physical evidence for a worldwide flood from the billions of fossils of plants and of animals in the earth.

    Visit my latest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION (This site answers many arguments, both old and new, that have been used by evolutionists to support their theory)

    Author of the popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

    *The author, Babu G. Ranganathan, has his bachelor’s degree with concentrations in theology and biology and has been recognized for his writings on religion and science in the 24th edition of Marquis “Who’s Who In The East.”

    • You believe in a story (among many) written by Humans who have always wanted a God to save them from the random events (read events that are unpredictable/difficult to predict) like meteor strikes, floods, pandemics and Megalomaniacs. This tendency is natural. There is no God in existence except in the imagination of any extra-intelligent self-aware life form like Humans on this planet. Science is the only salvation, though there is no guarantee because of the forces at play. Still many are alive today because Science provided the medical answer.

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