Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Geologists, using computer models, have reconstructed the size and impact velocity of a giant asteroid that hit the Earth approximately 3.26 billion years ago.
This is a fascinating result, but it is very important to recognize its very large uncertainties. The article for example says almost nothing about how these conclusions were reached, except for this one paragraph:
Lowe, who discovered telltale rock formations in the Barberton greenstone a decade ago, thought their structure smacked of an asteroid impact. The new research models for the first time how big the asteroid was and the effect it had on the planet, including the possible initiation of a more modern plate tectonic system that is seen in the region, according to Lowe. [emphasis mine]
I have highlighted that one word because it reveals a great deal. What they did was to create a computer model of the data they had, which was merely very unusual geology spread over a certain region called the Barberton Greenstone Belt. Note also that this region is not where the impact occurred. “The study’s co-authors think the asteroid hit the Earth thousands of kilometers away from the Barberton Greenstone Belt, although they can’t pinpoint the exact location.”