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Earth Impact Effects Program

Robert Marcus, H. Jay Melosh, and Gareth Collins

Please note: the results below are estimates based on current (limited) understanding of the
impact process and come with large uncertainties; they should be used with caution, particularly
in the case of peculiar input parameters. All values are given to three significant figures but this
does not reflect the precision of the estimate. For more information about the uncertainty
associated with our calculations and a full discussion of this program, please refer to this article

Your Inputs:
Distance from Impact: 3000.00 km ( = 1860.00 miles ) Example: Mexico City
Projectile diameter: 4.00 km ( = 2.48 miles )
Projectile Density: 8000 kg/m3
Impact Velocity: 1700.00 km per second ( = 1060.00 miles per second )
Impact Angle: 70 degrees
Target Density: 2500 kg/m3
Target Type: Sedimentary Rock

Energy before atmospheric entry: 3.87 x 1026 Joules = 9.25 x 1010 MegaTons TNT
The average interval between impacts of this size is longer than the Earth's age.
Such impacts could only occur during the accumulation of the Earth, between 4.5 and 4
billion years ago.

Major Global Changes:

The Earth is not strongly disturbed by the impact and loses negligible mass.
The impact does not make a noticeable change in the tilt of Earth's axis (< 5 hundreths of
a degree).
Depending on the direction and location of impact, the collision may cause a change in
the length of the day of up to 12.2 milliseconds.
The impact does not shift the Earth's orbit noticeably.

Crater Dimensions:
Transient Crater Diameter: 361 km ( = 224 miles )
Transient Crater Depth: 128 km ( = 79.2 miles )

Final Crater Diameter: 780 km ( = 484 miles )

Final Crater Depth: 2.2 km ( = 1.36 miles )
The crater formed is a complex crater.
The volume of the target melted or vaporized is 3.24e+06 km3 = 777000 miles3
Roughly half the melt remains in the crater, where its average thickness is 31.7 km ( =
19.7 miles ).

Thermal Radiation:
Time for maximum radiation: 858 milliseconds after impact

Visible fireball radius: 764 km ( = 474 miles )

The fireball appears 57.9 times larger than the sun
Thermal Exposure: 8.58 x 109 Joules/m2
Duration of Irradiation: 5.26 hours
Radiant flux (relative to the sun): 453

Effects of Thermal Radiation:

Clothing ignites

Much of the body suffers third degree burns

Newspaper ignites

Plywood flames

Deciduous trees ignite

Grass ignites

Seismic Effects:
The major seismic shaking will arrive approximately 10 minutes after impact.
Richter Scale Magnitude: 11.9 (This is greater than any earthquake in recorded
Mercalli Scale Intensity at a distance of 3000 km:

VI. Felt by all, many frightened. Some heavy furniture moved; a few instances of
fallen plaster. Damage slight.

VII. Damage negligible in buildings of good design and construction; slight to

moderate in well-built ordinary structures; considerable damage in poorly built or
badly designed structures; some chimneys broken.
The ejecta will arrive approximately 17 minutes after the impact.
At your position there is a fine dusting of ejecta with occasional larger fragments
Average Ejecta Thickness: 5.6 meters ( = 18.4 feet )
Mean Fragment Diameter: 683 microns ( = 26.9 thousandths of an inch )

Air Blast:
The air blast will arrive approximately 2.53 hours after impact.
Peak Overpressure: 1.76e+06 Pa = 17.6 bars = 249 psi
Max wind velocity: 1030 m/s = 2310 mph
Sound Intensity: 125 dB (Dangerously Loud)
Damage Description:

Multistory wall-bearing buildings will collapse.

Wood frame buildings will almost completely collapse.

Multistory steel-framed office-type buildings will suffer extreme frame distortion,

incipient collapse.

Highway truss bridges will collapse.

Highway girder bridges will collapse.

Glass windows will shatter.

Cars and trucks will be largely displaced and grossly distorted and will require
rebuilding before use.

Up to 90 percent of trees blown down; remainder stripped of branches and leaves.