Question: What will happen if a meteor crashes Earth?

  1. Hi mofletitos, this is a great question! You might not know but meteors are crashing into the Earth all the time! This is the only way that we have rocks from Mars! We also have lunar meteorites that have crashed into the Earth! Of course, these are very small pieces of rock that hit the Earth at very high or low latitudes. For example, every year there is a big meteorite hunting season in Antarctica called ANSMET where they just walk around searching for a few weeks (Check it out here:

    But of course there have been times in Earth’s history that extremely large meteorite impacts have occurred. The Chicxulub Impact is one that you may have heard of that caused most of the dinosaurs to go extinct. Or there has been recent research to say that there was an enormous impact event that happened close to the formation of the Earth that may have been a big cause for the initiation of plate tectonics.

    A large impact would throw enormous amounts of debris into the air that would circulate the earth in the atmosphere. The asteroid would vaporize on impact as well as a large chunk of crust if on land. The dust and smoke from all of the fires would block out the sun killing off much plant and animal life. Of course, I’m pretty sure we would know well before a possible impact would happen. These are just the kind of things that have happened in the past as a consequence of an impact.


  2. Great question, and one which geohazards specialists do actually take into consideration!

    As Jesse mentioned, the meteorite impact 65 million years ago made the dinosaurs go extinct. This is probably the most famous impact. There was also a change in foraminifera species, and lots went extinct (I just put a photo on my profile of me with the K/T boundary, I was on a field trip yesterday!), only some species survived and some species also increased in abundance (according to the professor teaching us they are ‘disaster species’).

    An asteroid falling from the sky would certainly cause a lot of damage over a wide area. It would have a great amount of energy and could be traveling at a speed of over 30, 000 miles per hour (48 times faster than a jet plane!). If you imagine a small meteorite (say about the size of a middle detached house), this would have an energy of 20 kilotons – thats the size of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. This would flatten concrete buildings and wooden structures about a mile and a half away. So basically a LOT of damage!

    If you had a meteorite about 1 mile wide and that had an energy of 10 million times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb it would flatten things around it for 100-200 miles away . There would be a lot of dust and debris and a lot of living things would die out, similar to what happened 65 million years ago. If it landed in the ocean it would cause a massive tidal wave to occur hundreds of feet high and would wipe out many coastlines nearby.


  3. Meteors crash al the time with the Earth. However, most of them disintegrate by friction as they enter the atmosphere. When a meteor crashes it produces a large sound waves that could be heard for kilometers. It would hit the surface with such a force that will make a crater and eject rocks and dust into the atmosphere. The impact is so strong that it will deform the minerals in the ground. If the meteor is large, It would leave a huge crater and produce airborne particles that if they reach high altitudes and the wind carries them could circle the whole globe. The best evidence suggests that a large meteor impacted the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico at about 65 million years ago and was the main cause for the extinction of the dinosaurs and other animals. The large dust cloud may have affected the sunlight reaching the Earth, the growth of plants, causing the dinosaurs to starve.

    Recently there was a large explosion of a meteorite entering the atmosphere in Russia. The event was recorded and many videos can be seen in the internet. The sound waves in that case made most of the damage as it broke many windows and some walls in the city.


  4. Hi Mofletitos,

    As the other scientists have mentioned meteors crash with the Earth all the time. Most of these disintegrate of else are too small to be considered as a major danger.

    Nonetheless, it is not impossible that there is major damage out of these meteors.

    An interesting short documentary is the following:

    I hope this helps! 🙂


  5. Very fascinating question, I think my colleagues here gave already some interesting replies, and very nice video, Denise 😉