A meteor/comet two miles wide crossed paths with Earth 35 million years ago. Moving at the speed of 21 miles per second, it crashed here, and what is today the town of Cape Charles, creating the sixth largest impact crater on earth.Written by Diane Tennant, Reporter, Virginia-Pilot
The meteor blasted into the shallow sea that covered the state's eastern half, and exploded with more force than the combined nuclear arsenal of today's world powers. Rock flew skyward, bedrock fractured seven miles deep and enormous tsunamis raced westward to the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Melted rock splashed upward in the center, hardening into a central peak nearly a mile tall, which is directly under Cape Charles. Over the centuries sentiment and debris have filled in the crater and what is now called the Chesapeake Bay lays over much of it today.
Although the carter is not visible today, small earthquakes occasionally rock its fault lines, and two low ridges appear to the mimic its contours far underground. One of these can be seen near the town of Painter, northeast of Cape Charles. The other is just east of Gloucester Courthouse on the western side of the Bay.
The meteor's impact flung a huge column of water into the air. When the water collapsed back into the hole, tsunamis (giant waves) between 1,000 and 4,000 feet high scoured the land.