An asteroid that hit Australia 545 million years ago, was “big enough to crack a continent”, says Daniel Connelly the research scientist who has been working on the Massive Australian Precambrian-Cambrian Impact Structure (MAPCIS) since 2007.
How would you feel to suddenly learn, that as well as living under the once, Great Inland Sea, you also live inside the largest impact crater in the world? Coober Pedy Area School students will host Primary MAPCIS researcher Daniel Connelly on Monday 22nd October for a special MAPCIS briefing at the conclusion of Earth Science Week 2018.
Daniel is currently in Australia presenting the MAPCIS findings to the AGCC GeoScience Expo at the The Adelaide Convention Centre.
The area noted in the map attached has become the subject of scientific focus that may well prove to be the site of the unexplained Cambrian Explosion!
In 2007 Daniel Connelly was preparing for a trip to Oz and casually looked at Australia on Google earth. He saw the shape of a large ring and thought it shouldn’t be there. His natural curiosity has taken him to where MAPCIS is today. “The impact was hidden in plain sight”, he said.
The massive impact is approximately 2000km in diameter, and dated at 545 million years old. The impact seriously coincides with the Cambrian Explosion of life, and the scientific data is matching up. If confirmed the discovery of the MAPCIS impact in Outback NT/SA will dispel previous speculation and theories on the ‘Cambrian explosion of life’ that has baffled world scientists for an eternity.
“The asteroid impact centered in the empty space between Uluru and Mt. Conner. It appears that the hit created the known rift valley that formed between the North Australia Craton (piece of continental crust) and the South Australia Craton. The pivot point for the rotation of the South Australia Craton as it moved is the exact center of MAPCIS where the asteroid hit,” Daniel told the Coober Pedy Regional Times.
Incredible that Daniel began this venture as a curious civilian/pharmacist and not as a geologist. It is a remarkable and lengthy journey of persistence and passion with an historic outcome that would involve our immediate area. The existence of a massive impact across that large area explains the types of minerals being discovered in recent decades that would normally exist at around 40 kilometers deep.
Since 2011 Daniel has kept contact with the editor of the Coober Pedy Regional Times and now together with his wife, Dr. Malgorzata Piszcz-Connelly, will visit the ‘Opal Capital of the World’ on Monday and meet with the science teachers at Coober Pedy Area School and bring the local students into this great adventure.
CPAS Science teacher Dan Bird said, “This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to better understand the forces that have shaped our country, and be part of some world class, ground breaking science during Earth Science week. We welcome Daniel and look forward to discussing his scientific proposal.”
“The most important evidence was collected right here in Australia’s centre in 2011, nearest to the center of impact. It is a rock called pseudotachylite breccia. It is black glassy rock melted by shock and friction with pieces of broken rock mixed in,” said Connelly.
Daniel and his two sons David and Kenneth stayed in Coober Pedy in 2011 as guests of Yanni Athansasiadis of the Umoona Opal Mine and Museum. This tough rock was cut in Coober Pedy by opal dealer/cutter James Mougris to expose the glassy melt.
During this expedition Daniel met with many opal miners in Coober Pedy as well as travelling to Mintabie to gain some local geophysical knowlege of the area
The pseudotachylite has taken many long journeys since 2011. “The speciman has been x-rayed to identify the elements, and bombarded with radiation in a nuclear reactor to attempt to find how old it is. It has been sliced ultra thin in order to pass light through it and look at it through a microscope.” said Daniel.
“Under the microscope the expert petrologist, Arif Sikder, found shocked quartz crystals in the broken bits and a type of glass that forms without melting which are the sure signs of an impact. This very ordinary looking rock was given to Australian museums starting with the Umoona Museum in Coober Pedy, the South Australia museum Adelaide, The Australian museum, Sydney and then the Natural History Museum of Vienna in Austria.”
The geologist Jaime Presser, from Paraguay and specialist in finding kimberlite pipes and the diamonds associated with them, has made spectacular images of the deep structure under central Australia. He has completely mapped out the outer rim and the central subsurface mountains which are currently buried. He shows that 15km of crust is missing as compared to the impact that killed the dinosaurs where only 1.5km of crust is missing.
The future of geologic research in central Australia is wide open. With increased exposure scientists will want to come and study this phenomenon. Like the big impacts in South Africa, Canada and Mexico, tourists will come as well to see the biggest Earth mover ever.
by Margaret Mackay (Coober Pedy Regional Times)