Ancient Rock Reveals Shocking First Day After Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Impact
11 Septembre, 2019, 06:23 | Auteur: Therese Cote
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. Initially, the site of the impact was shallow ocean, less than 30 metres deep.
Geologists believe they have found rocks that filled the impact crater of the huge asteroid that pummeled Earth and killed off the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.
The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on September 9 and builds on earlier work co-led and led by the Jackson School that described how the crater formed and how life quickly recovered at the impact site. "In this case, you instantly made a hole with the impact and buried it with all these dynamic processes", Guelick said.
Now scientists have real evidence to back up that assessment thanks to researchers at The University of Texas.
An worldwide team of more than two dozen scientists analyzed core samples from rocks within the mountains and hills surrounding the Chixculub cater in the Yucatan Peninsula, a massive hole measuring almost 30 kilometers (19 miles) deep and 193 kilometers (120 miles) wide.
While everyone knows an asteroid killed Earth's dinosaurs, how exactly it achieved this has remained the subject of some debate.
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"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". It then created a massive heat pulse that raised temperatures in regions over 900 miles away from the impact zone. Inside the crater, researchers found charcoal and a chemical biomarker associated with soil fungi within or just above layers of sand that shows signs of being deposited by resurging waters.
An enormous rock, perhaps a few miles wide, struck and immediately created a large crater.
The impact caused wildfires, tsunamis and put so much sulphur into the atmosphere that it blocked the sun. Then, the whole planet froze - resulting in the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which marks the end of the Cretaceous period, and the demise of non-avian dinosaurs.
'Not all the dinosaurs died that day - but many dinosaurs did'. This may be explained by the asteroid's ability to vaporize any minerals that might have held sulfur, thereby releasing an estimated 225 billion metric tons of sulfur into the atmosphere. The area around the crater is full of sulfur-rich rocks, and yet no sulfur was found within the core samples.
The new research allows scientists "to get a really clear snapshot" of what happened that day, according to Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. "The only way you get a global mass extinction like this is an atmospheric effect", Gulick said.
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