The Tunguska impact event and beyond
B. Napier and D. Asher
Astron. Geophys., 50 (1), 18-26 (2009)
Current strategies for dealing with the impact hazard are geared towards the
detection and deflection of near-Earth asteroids, which typically have
approach speeds ~20 km/s and involve decades of warning. However galactic
signals in the age distribution of well-dated impact craters suggest that the
globally destructive impactors (diameters between 1.5 and 2 km and upwards)
ultimately derive from the Oort cloud. Warning times are then measured in
months or days, and characteristic approach speeds are ~55 km/s.
Concentrations of sub-kilometre debris in meteor streams may also be a
significant regional hazard. Intersection with the debris of a large
short-period comet may account for the widespread biological and cultural
dislocation in North America around 12,900 BP.
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