Scientists Uncover New Evidence of Asteroid That Killed Dinosaurs

The Liftboat Myrtle. Image Credit University of Texas

The smash triggered wildfires, tsunamis, and sent up thick wafts of sulfur that choked out sunlight long enough to cool global temperatures down, leading to the extinction of the dominant species on the planet at the time. "Then the energy and thermal effects radiate out from the impact site at various speeds up to the speed of light".

The study builds on previous research that explains how the crater was formed and validates the notion that the asteroid's impact caused the planet's surface to behave like a fluid, creating the mountains and hills that surround the crater from rocks that came from deep within the Earth's crust. According to the research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, nearly 425 feet of material was deposited on the first day. "It tells us about impact processes from an eyewitness location".

Now, a large team of scientists led by eggheads at the University of Texas, Austin, in the United States reckon they have uncovered the rubble that rushed in to pack the gaping hole after the asteroid struck.

While everyone knows an asteroid killed Earth's dinosaurs, how exactly it achieved this has remained the subject of some debate.

The Impossible Magnitude-12 Earthquake That Changed Our World, The Galaxy reported that the asteroid itself was so large that, even at the moment of impact, the top of it might have still towered more than a mile above the cruising altitude of a 747, writes author Peter Brannen in Ends of the World.

"The research team analysed samples of the peak ring of the Chicxulub crater core for molecules such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), revealing that a tsunami measuring several hundred metres in height flooded the crater within days of the asteroid impact". Under a thin ring of overlying material is over 400 feet of melt rock that was laid down during the day following the impact. Over the next few hours, the ocean water started to make its way back, filling in the crater and depositing a different layer of debris.

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Based on the core samples (see below), the team estimates the impactor hit with the force of 10 billion Hiroshima atomic bombs. But good news for folks who study them: chemical biomarkers show signs of being deposited by resurging waters, suggesting the landscape was pulled into the crater with the receding tides.

A portion of the drilled cores from the rocks that filled the crater. This finding suggests the impact vaporized these rocks, forming sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere and causing cooling on a global scale.

The heat pulse would have raised temperatures over 900 miles away, Gulick says, and "at farther distances the ejecta could also have caused fires by frictional heating as it rained down in the atmosphere".

'Not all the dinosaurs died that day - but many dinosaurs did'. The mass extinction event was the result of an impact event by an asteroid that created the 180 kilometre wide Chicxulub crater in Gulf of Mexico. "It was a momentous day in the history of life, and this is a very clear documentation of what happened at ground zero", he said in a statement.

According to the researchers' calculations, somewhere around 325 billion metric tons of sulphur would have been ejected by the impact.

Interestingly, life quickly recovered at the site.

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