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Geologists uncovered a meteor strike that took place 60million years ago by looking at volcanic rocks on Scotland’s Isle of Sky.
Analysts thought they were looking at rocks from a volcanic explosion and were unaware they had found rare minerals from outer space until they tested the rocks.
The report said: “These mineral forms have never been reported on Earth.”
Simon Drake, an associate lecturer in geology at Birkbeck University of London, added: “We thought it was an ignimbrite (a volcanic flow deposit).”
The strange space minerals had previously been collected by NASA’s Stardust Comet Sample Return Mission as space dust.
The meteor the minerals are believed to have come from would be the oldest meteor to hit the UK ever discovered.
The accidental discovery was a shock to Professor Drake, who admits at one point he questioned the importance of the expedition.
He told Phys Org: “We were sinking in up to our thighs.
“I distinctly recall saying to co-author Andy Beard, ‘this had better be worth it.’”
He added: “It was worth it.”
The geologists also found reidite, a high pressure form of the mineral zircon, which is usually only found in nature after high impact.
The unusual mineral of barringerite was also found, as well as at a second site seven kilometres away.
Mr Drake has said that the discovery of these unexpected minerals suggest meteorites could have had a role in the creation of Skye.
Speaking to Newsweek he said: “Whilst we can’t say that the volcanological evolution of Skye was started by a meteorite, we think it was definitely a driver for that impact.”