Tuesday, 17 September, 2019

Ancient Rock Reveals Shocking First Day After Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Impact

Illustration of Pteranodon sp. flying reptiles watching a massive asteroid approaching Earth's surface. A similar impact is believed to have led to the death of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. The impact would have thrown trillions of tons The asteroid blasted Earth wiping out the dinosaurs More
Elijah Vega | 11 September, 2019, 06:26

Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid blast the equivalent of 10 billion World War II atomic bombs set off wildfires, triggered tsunamis, and emitted enough sulfur into the atmosphere to block out the Sun.

An global team led by University of Texas and including Imperial College London researchers analysed more than 130 metres of rock that had built up over just one day - the day after the asteroid struck.

As described in a paper published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers found proof in the hundreds of feet of rocks that filled the impact crater within the first 24 hours after impact.

"It tells us about impact processes from an eyewitness location", he said.

Now a study by the University of Austin in Texas has confirmed the theory.

Gulick led this study, as well as the 2016 International Ocean Discovery Program scientific drilling mission, during which the rocks were retrieved from the impact site offshore of the Yucatan Peninsula.

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While everyone knows an asteroid killed Earth's dinosaurs, how exactly it achieved this has remained the subject of some debate. The impact produced a tsunami more than a thousand feet tall, and at the same time gouged a massive crater of melted, deformed rock known as shocked rock.

When they examined a portion of the drilled cores from the rocks that filled the crater left by the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. The blast ignited trees and plants that were thousands of miles away and triggered a massive tsunami that reached as far inland as IL.

Inside the crater, researchers found charcoal and a chemical marker associated with soil fungi that shows signs of being deposited by resurging waters. "We fried them and then we froze them". The area around the crater is full of sulfur-rich rocks, and yet no sulfur was found within the core samples. "The complication with relating individual deposits in the core to specific types of events is that clearly the crater wasn't a static environment after formation", Witts says, meaning that earthquakes, waves and other events have altered the rock record over the course of 66 million years. "Not all the dinosaurs died that day, but many dinosaurs did". This suggests that these rocks were vaporised by the impact, expelling tremendous amounts of sulphate aerosols into the atmosphere, where they blocked the light of the Sun, dramatically cooling Earth's temperatures for years after. The impact did cause devastation in the locality of the impact but the global extinction took place due to the climate change caused by the release of massive volumes of sulphur, nearly 325 billion metric tonnes.

The enormous Chicxulub crater is a remnant of one of the most consequential days in the history of life on Earth.

"The real killer has got to be atmospheric", Gulick said in the statement.

The impact affected life far from the site. 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.

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