Comet/Asteroid Impacts and Human Society pp 341-351
Atmospheric Megacryometeor Events versus Small Meteorite Impacts: Scientific and Human Perspective of a Potential Natural Hazard
It is important to differentiate between a natural hazard and a natural disaster. A natural hazard is an unexpected or uncontrollable natural event of unusual magnitude that threatens the activities of people or people themselves (NHERC 2004). A natural disaster is a natural hazard event that actually results in widespread destruction of property or causes injury and/or death. Only a very small fraction of the actual meteorite events are observed as falls in any given year. It has been predicted that 5800 meteorite events (with ground masses greater than 0.1 kg) should occur per year on the total land mass of the Earth. In a recent work, Cockell (2003) emphasizes the scientific and social importance of giving a coordinated and multidisciplinary response to events related with the entrance of small asteroidal bodies that could potentially collide with the Earth. In fact, it can be said that the recovery of small meteorites between 1 kg to 200 kg is relatively common; in Spain alone there are four meteorites in the collection of the National Museum of Natural History, weighing more than 30 kg (e.g. Colomera iron meteorite). But what would happen if the impact bodies, despite weighing up to 200 kg, would melt?
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