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The Chesapeake Bay impact structure

October 27, 2015

About 35 million years ago, during late Eocene time, a 2-mile-wide asteroid or comet smashed into Earth in what is now the lower Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. The oceanic impact vaporized, melted, fractured, and (or) displaced the target rocks and sediments and sent billions of tons of water, sediments, and rocks into the air. Glassy particles of solidified melt rock rained down as far away as Texas and the Caribbean. Models suggest that even up to 50 miles away the velocity of the intensely hot air blast was greater than 1,500 miles per hour, and ground shaking was equivalent to an earthquake greater than magnitude 8.0 on the Richter scale. Large tsunamis affected most of the North Atlantic basin. The Chesapeake Bay impact structure is among the 20 largest known impact structures on Earth.