Asteroid 2005-YU55 Measured more than a thousand feet in diameter, it passed within 200,000 miles of Earth, a bit closer to us than the moon and just a hair’s breadth in astronomical terms. What if it had slammed into us?
If 2005-YU55 hit the ocean, the most probable impact point, a massive tsunami wave would result. In 1,000 feet of water, it would dig a pit three miles wide into the seafloor and push a huge, spreading wave crest more than 500 feet high. If instead the water were a mile deep, as in mid-ocean, the tsunami would be nearly 1,000 feet tall.
If a 1,000 foot asteroid hit land at 17 km per second, slanting 45 degree crash path and you were to watching from the edge of a forest 10 miles away, you could see the asteroid blast a hole 4 miles wide and 1,670 feet deep into solid bedrock, producing a brilliant fireball three miles wide that would leave a puddle of molted stone 15 feet deep at the bottom of the crater. A little less than a minute later, a super-heated shock wave would slam into you, ignite your clothing, and set the woods around you ablaze after knocking you and most of the trees over. Ten seconds after that, heavy blocks of shattered rock averaging 16 feet across would rain down on you, burying what’s left of you and your surroundings.
If you love running scenarios of death consider the virtual “Catastrophe Calculator”
Curt Stager is an ecologist, paleoclimatologist, and science journalist with a Ph.D. in biology and geology from Duke University (1985)