A scientist warned that a major asteroid impact in the Atlantic Ocean would result in very high death tolls. The scientist also described what would happen to the coastal regions if a massive asteroid breaches Earth’s atmosphere and hits the ocean.

According to NASA, hundreds to thousands of small asteroids buzz near Earth on a daily basis. Since many of these space rocks are too small, they usually just burn up and disintegrate in the atmosphere before reaching the ground.

However, the agency admitted that there are massive space rocks that are in danger of hitting Earth. Some of these asteroids are so big that they can easily wipe out entire cities or even states. For cosmochemist Natalie Starkey, necessary steps should be taken in order to ensure Earth’s safety against these kinds of asteroids.

“If we fail in the future to protect the planet from space threats, then we could expect a large asteroid or comet impact to wreak havoc on the Earth’s surface, resulting in major global changed and high death tolls,” she said according to Express.

Since 70% of Earth is covered in water, there’s a huge chance that an asteroid impact would happen in the ocean instead of on land. Starkey noted that the effect of an asteroid strike in the ocean can be compared to a pebble causing ripples as it hits a pond. In an actual impact scenario, mega-tsunamis will act like the ripples as they travel across several miles and wipe out coastal areas.

“Now, let’s imagine scaling up to a huge chunk of asteroid, possibly a few kilometers in diameter, traveling at unimaginable speeds – up to 40,000mph – into one of our oceans,” she said. “The effect is the same, but the edges of the pond are now large cities inhabited by millions of people and the dense infrastructure that certainly couldn’t cope with being inundated by a massive wall of water.”

According to Starkey, an asteroid impact on land is a bit similar to one in the ocean. But instead of ripples or tsunamis, shock waves from the blast would radiate from the point of impact, demolishing and incinerating everything in their path.

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