Giant asteroid struck site of Highland village 1bn years ago

The village of Lairg on the banks of Loch Shin. Picture: Creative Commons
The village of Lairg on the banks of Loch Shin. Picture: Creative Commons
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A remote Highland village lies in the centre of a meteorite crater that struck Earth 1.2 billion years ago, scientists have found.

The town of Lairg, on the south eastern bank of Sutherland’s Loch Shin, was the epicentre of an asteroid impact that could have been 3km wide according to research.

Lairg is the north of the Highlands. Picture: Google Mao

Lairg is the north of the Highlands. Picture: Google Mao

The “Lairg Asteroid” was bigger than the one that likely wiped out the dinosaurs and would have struck at such a thunderous speed - approximately 65,000 kilometres per hour - that it penetrated 8km into the planet’s crust with a force 940 million times that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

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Dr Michael Simms, curator of palaeontology at the Ulster Museum in Belfast who has studied the site commented: “It [the asteroid] would have been an utter catastrophe.”

His findings follow up research from 2008 that concluded strange rock formations in the Highlands contained an “ejecta blanket” that was created by a impact from outer space.

Dr Simms - whose findings will appear in new Channel 4 show Walking Through Time - believes his study suggests an impact crater 40km wide, which would place it in the top 15 of the 200 similar craters that have been uncovered.

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