Washington, Jan 27 : Researchers have for the first time linked a meteor impact with a health threat to the people of an area, namely the small Canadian town of Gypsumville, Manitoba.
According to a report in Discovery News, the water in the well of this town has the presence of an extraordinary amount of fluoride in it, which might lead to sever health problems for its small populace.
A recent study by scientists from the Canadian Geological Survey point towards a meteor impact as the cause for this contamination of the water source.
Reports indicate that a meteorite had struck down almost a quarter-billion years ago in the area, creating the 25-mile-wide (40-kilometer) Lake Martin impact crater.
The ancient impact shattered the granitic ground so that extraordinary amounts of fluoride now taint the well water.
Slightly higher than recommended amounts of fluoride can cause mottled teeth, while even higher concentrations can lead to neurological problems and softened bones.
"Spotting the likely cause of the fluoride problem was simply a matter of overlaying a map of the well water fluoride concentrations with one that shows the geology of the area," said geochemist Matthew Leybourne of the New Zealand government's Geological and Nuclear Sciences.
For the researchers, correlating the fluoride with the impact structure pointed to a possible cause of the problem. The next step was to work out exactly how an impact so long ago could cause groundwater to have more fluoride today.
According to the research, normally hydrothermal activity plays a role in this process.
"But in Gypsumville, the mechanism is the meteor-shattered granite, which makes more of the fluorite mineral surfaces exposed to the groundwater," said Leybourne. "The impact changed the grain size," he explained.
According to Richard Grieve, Chief Scientist of Natural Resources Canada's Earth Sciences Sector, meteor impacts are a huge agent for change in local geology.
"Some other similar effects have been seen at other impact sites around the world," said Grieve.