Last Day of The Dinosaurs Revealed in Stunning Glimpse of Asteroid Disaster

  • Last Day of The Dinosaurs Revealed in Stunning Glimpse of Asteroid Disaster

Last Day of The Dinosaurs Revealed in Stunning Glimpse of Asteroid Disaster

Now, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin examining core samples from the impact site, from 500 to 1,300 meters (1,640 to 4,265 feet) below the seafloor, have found hard evidence of the exact modus operandi of the planet-killer asteroid. Several hours later, the hole had filled to 80 meters and after a day, the material swept in by the tsunami deposited sand, gravel and bits of charcoal, according to the paper's abstract published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 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.

It has been theorized that when the asteroid hit the material that filled the crater, was created by the impact with water flowing into the crater. "Then the energy and thermal effects radiate out from the impact site at various speeds up to the speed of light".

'It tells us about impact processes from an eyewitness location'. The data suggests that on impact, the rocks flew out, creating a ring protrusion around the crater. The ring was soon covered by over 70 feet of additional rock that had melted in the heat of the blast. The ocean would then have filled the crater, depositing any debris it was carrying. "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.

"You look at a metre of core, and typically you're looking at millions of years of time". Here, the researchers drilled into the ground to examine samples of the rock miles below the impact site. The researchers carefully handled the samples to avoid contaminating them with modern material.

"The abundance of perylene within the crater is the result of it being transported there by the soil and land plant debris carried by the tsunami", Professor Grice said.

Sean Gulick, a research professor at The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences (right) and lead author of the study, with co-author Joanna Morgan, a professor at Imperial College London, on the International Ocean Discovery Program research expedition that retrieved cores from the submerged and buried impact crater. She explained that the patterns in the charcoal were complex, so it's not as easy as simply saying there were forest fires, but the charcoal was suggestive of high-energy heating that took place hundreds of miles away. Geologists had detected and studied this effect before, but the new research reinforces the role this atmospheric disruption played in the extinction that followed. However, the core seemed to be missing sulphur, Guelick said.

The team believes the amount of sulfur released into the atmosphere has been underestimated. This destroyed Earth's existing climate, blocking out the sun and causing a global cooling period that caused the "mass extinction" of the dinosaurs.

Commenting on the findings, Jay Melosh, from Purdue University and who was not involved in the study, said this research helps expand our understanding of what happened when the asteroid hit. He said the work was an important documentation of the events that immediately followed the impact.