A meteorite more than 40 kms wide and hurtling towards Earth at 58,000 miles per hour that killed dinosaurs 65 million years ago, had actually crash-landed off India’s west coast, an Indian-origin professor has claimed.

Sankar Chatterjee of Texas Tech University, who presented his research this month at a meet in the Geological Society of America in Portland, Oregon, on Sunday, said, “If we are right, massive Shiva basin, a submerged depression west of India is the largest crater known on our planet.”

Mr. Chatterjee, who along with a team of researchers took a close look at the Shiva basin that is intensely mined for its oil and gas resources said, “It is probably the largest, multi-ringed impact crater the world has ever seen perhaps 40 kms in diameter creates its own tectonics.”

“Work done by a research team of Indians and Americans, working with information released by the companies operating in the area, has provided the strongest evidence to date that this was the spot where the dinosaur-killer hit,” he said.

He rejected earlier arguments that dinosaurs were killed after a giant asteroid slammed into the planet near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, saying the object that struck in Mexico was only between 8 and 10 kms wide.

‘Dramatic’

According to the Geological Society of America, the geological evidence is dramatic. Shiva’s outer rim forms a rough, faulted ring some 500 kilometres in diameter, encircling the central peak, known as the Bombay High.

Most of the crater lies submerged on India’s continental shelf, but where it does come ashore it is marked by tall cliffs, active faults and hot springs. The impact appears to have sheared or destroyed much of the 48-km-thick granite layer in the western coast of India, the society said.

Mr. Chatterjee’s team hopes to visit India later this year to examine rocks from the centre of the putative crater for clues that would prove the strange basin was formed by a gigantic impact.

“Rocks from the bottom of the crater will tell us the telltale sign of the impact event from shattered and melted target rocks. And we want to see if there are breccias, shocked quartz, and an iridium anomaly,” he said, adding “asteroids are rich in iridium, and such anomalies are thought of as the fingerprint of an impact.”

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