Meteorites have been in the news lately for having allegedly caused two major catastrophes in human history. First, it was the discovery of a large impact crater on Greenland. The meteorite responsible for it appears to have struck during the Younger Dryas some 12,000 years ago. The impact was so energetic that it may well have caused extraordinary floods, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
Another meteorite appears to have struck during the biblical time of Abraham, giving support to the story about Sodom. Archaeologists have found evidence to suggest that an enormously hot wind flattened a town located by the Dead Sea. The only explanation for this is that a meteorite exploded very close to the settlement, wiping it out in an instance, as described in the Bible.
Meteorite exploding in the sky
While there is a crater on Greenland, there is no crater by the Dead Sea. This tells us that the impact on Greenland was much more energetic than the explosion above Sodom. However, it does not follow that the crater on Greenland is the result of a kinetic collision between a meteorite and Earth. It too can be the result of an explosion, and there is strong evidence to suggest this.
An interesting feature of the crater on Greenland is that it has a raised center. This is the tell tale footprint of an electric discharge. The return stroke of a powerful lightning will pull matter up with it, leaving a raised structure in the center. The meteorite that hit Greenland most likely got zapped to pieces by a lightning bolt between itself and Earth.
It appears then that all meteorites above a minimal size explode before impact, no matter how big they are. Impact craters are not due to kinetic collisions. Rather, they are the products of shock-waves from electrically induced explosions.