2,370 degrees Celsius is the highest rock formation temperature ever measured on Earth. In a study published April 17 in Earth and Planetary Science, scientists analyzed rocks from Lake Mistastin, located in the namesake crater in Canada. They discovered that they were formed when a meteorite hit Earth at record temperatures of more than 2,300 degrees Celsius. This makes them rocks that have reached the highest temperature on earth. You need to understand “on the surface,” because as Numerama pointed out on Wednesday, April 20, the deeper you go into the Earth’s crust, the higher the temperature.
Geologists had already made this discovery in 2011. According to Numerama, in the same crater they had found a rock that had intrigued them and was therefore the subject of analysis. The results of the study had revealed a few years later that its formation temperature was estimated at 2,370 degrees Celsius. The latest study confirms their discovery. Although the rocks were already formed and therefore colder when analyzed, scientists were interested in their formation environment.
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Minerals that crystallize at high temperatures
On the one hand, the researchers discovered that these rocks contained reidites, minerals that essentially form at high temperatures and pressures, Numerama specifies. However, the rocks studied are from a meteorite impact, i.e. conditions favorable to the generation of extreme heat. On the other hand, they also contain zircons, minerals that also only crystallize at very high temperatures. However, they crystallize differently depending on the temperature level. The scientists therefore examined the different structures that the zircon assumes in the rock in order to determine at what temperature it was formed. They concluded that it was a “glassy” stone, close to glass.
For the authors of this study, these discoveries are important because they allow us to learn more about the heat and pressure conditions at the time of a meteorite impact. “We are beginning to realize that if we want to find evidence of such high temperatures, we need to look at specific regions rather than picking at random from an entire crater,” they explained.
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