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Rare Meteor Crater Discovered

Norwegian scientists have discovered a rare undersea meteor crater in the Arctic left by a stunning collision millions of years ago, a researcher said Monday.

The 25-mile-wide crater was found by a research team mapping the ocean floor 125 miles north of Norway, according to the January edition of Gemini, a magazine published by the SINTEF research institute in the northern city of Trondheim.

Just seven such sub-sea craters are known to exist, compared with more than 150 on land, the magazine said.

"Everything would indicate that it had a great impact on life, although not catastrophic," SINTEF senior geologist Atle Moerk said in a telephone interview Monday.

The roughly 1 and 1/4 mile-wide meteor was traveling about 18,600 mph when it slammed into the Earth an estimated 150 million years ago, according to the magazine.

The impact of the meteor caused a tidal wave that stretched from Canada to Russia, and sent a plume of hot debris into the atmosphere that darkened much of the planet.

Samples from the Norwegian crater showed quartz grains deformed by the impact, and traces of iridium, a rare element more often found in space than on earth. The magazine also said the crater was unusually well preserved.

The crater was named Mjoelnir, after the mythical hammer wielded by the Norse god of thunder, Thor.

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