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Lava splash confirms impact origin of Aïr Massif in Niger

For many years geologists have considered the formation of the Aïr Mountains in Niger to be the result of magma accumulation. The area has no craters typical of meteorite strikes, and the circular features that hint that the formation could have been caused by meteorites have been explained as the result of complex tectonic activity.[1]

A new theory proposes that a large meteorite cluster melts the surface of the Earth thereby preventing meteorite impacts from forming craters. The interpretation of the geological features has to rely on the waves created by meteorite impacts on the molten surface. The theory states that the circular waves created by meteorite impacts on the molten surface and the resulting overlapping circular rings can be used to distinguish meteorite strikes from volcanic or tectonic events.

Application of the new theory has found a splash zone, shown above, that confirms that the Aïr circular formations are the result of impacts by a large meteorite cluster. The splash is typical of what you would find by the edge of a swimming pool after someone does a cannonball dive.

Read about the impact theory for meteorite clusters

[1] C. Moreau, D. Demaiffe, Y. Bellion and A.-M. Boullier, A tectonic model for the location of Palaeozoic ring complexes in Aïr (Niger, West Africa), Tectonophysics, Volume 234, Issues 1-2, 15 June 1994, Pages 129-146. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0040-1951(94)90208-9

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