Meteorite created Madhya Pradesh's famous Dhala impact crater, new study reveals

New study suggests rare Ureilite meteorite formed India's Dhala impact crater, offering insights into early solar system and potential impact on Earth's water and life development.

| Updated on: Jul 27 2023, 12:37 IST
What is a Meteorite? Know about these fallen “space rocks”
Ureilite Meteorite
1/5 Meteorites are generally meteors that have fallen on Earth. When a meteoroid enters a planet’s atmosphere, it Is termed as a Meteor. If the meteor falls on the surface of the planet without burning up completely, it is called a Meteorite, according to NASA. (AP)
Ureilite Meteorite
2/5 Therefore, it can be said that meteorites are broken up pieces of a meteor fallen on Earth or any planet’s surface. They can be found in various parts of the world where there have been previous meteor sightings. Meteorites typically range between the size of a pebble and a fist (Pixabay)
Ureilite Meteorite
3/5 Meteorites can resemble rocks on Earth, but they usually have a burned exterior that can appear shiny. This “fusion crust” forms as the meteorite’s outer surface melts while passing through the atmosphere, according to NASA. (NASA)
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4/5 Although most meteorites found on Earth originate from smaller asteroids, they can also potentially originate at nearby planets such as Mars or even the Moon. Scientists can tell where meteorites originate based on several lines of evidence. They can use photographic observations of meteorite falls to calculate orbits and project their paths back to the asteroid belt. (NASA/JPL)
Ureilite Meteorite
5/5 Meteorites that fall to Earth contain information about some of the original, diverse materials that formed planets billions of years ago, according to NASA. By studying meteorites scientists can learn about early conditions of the solar system as well as the processes which happened to reach where we are today. (Pixabay)
Ureilite Meteorite
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Rare Ureilite Meteorite shaped India's massive Dhala impact crater, new study revealed. (Pixabay)

Over the course of its 4.5 billion years of existence, Earth has encountered an untold number of extraterrestrial bodies hurtling through its atmosphere. Some have disintegrated before reaching the surface, while others have left indelible marks on our planet, with one historic impact event leading to the extinction of an entire species (cue: the dinosaurs).

According to The Weather Channel, India currently has three of these ancient cosmic scars, known as meteor impact craters: Ramgarh in Rajasthan, Lonar in Maharashtra, and Dhala in Madhya Pradesh.

Dhala Crater: Asia's largest impact structure

Amongst these three, the Dhala crater, situated in the heart of India's Madhya Pradesh region in Shivpuri, has recently captured significant attention. With an impressive diameter of 11 kilometres, the Dhala structure has been confirmed by scientists to be Asia's largest and the world's seventh-largest impact crater.

In a recent discovery, a collaborative team of scientists from Allahabad University and the University of Bern, Switzerland, revealed that the Dhala crater resulted from the collision of an exceptionally rare and ancient meteorite, known as Ureilite, roughly 2500-1700 million years ago.

'Ureilites' belong to a scarce class of primitive meteorites, making up only a small fraction of all meteorites found on Earth. Comprising mostly olivine and pyroxene silicate rocks, Ureilites also contain less than 10% of carbon (either in the form of diamond or graphite), metal sulphides, and a few fine-grained silicates.

According to Professor JK Pati from Allahabad University's Earth and Planetary Sciences department, it is speculated that a one-kilometre-wide Ureilite meteorite plunged into Earth's atmosphere, striking the granitoid rocks of the Bundelkhand craton at an extraordinary speed of 15 km/s, thus creating the Dhala impact structure.

With the mystery of the impactor material now unravelled, researchers are eager to delve further into the secrets of this rare meteorite crater. The study aims to gain a deeper understanding of the nuances of our early solar system. Future research endeavours could shed light on its potential role in bringing water to Earth and contributing to the development of life on our planet.

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First Published Date: 27 Jul, 12:02 IST