A team of international researchers took a closer look at the impact site of the asteroid that may have played a part in the disappearance of dinosaurs. Ever since its discovery, scientists wondered how such a relatively “minor” asteroid led to such a series of catastrophic events. Now, the latest study argues that its size didn’t really. It was more about when and where it hit.
The “Dinosaur” Asteroid Could Have Had a Significantly Lower Impact
The research team now considers that the dinosaur disappearance was more influenced by circumstances than initially believed. They base their claims on a new study of the Chicxulub or the site of the impact crater of the ‘dinosaur asteroid’. Situated off the Yucatan peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico, it was discovered by geologists back in 1991. It has also baffled specialists ever since.
Chicxulub’s a 20-mile deep impact crater, the result of a somewhat minor nine-mile wide asteroid hitting Earth. The size of the site – 110 miles wide – did not explain its ensuing effects. Now, scientists claim that the place and the moment may have been more important than the size.
They believed that the space rock could have crashed into a massive lode of sulphur-rich rock. This would then explain the resulting global winter that led to the disappearance of so many species.
“Had the asteroid struck moments earlier or later, I might have hit deep water in the Atlantic or Pacific. That would have meant much less vaporized rock. Sunlight could have still reached the planet’s surface,” said Sean Gulick.
He is a professor of geophysics part of the University of Texas at Austin and study co-lead. The international team drilled a 20-mile deep hole inside the Chicxulub and then analyzed the extract samples collected from there.
Professor Joanna Morgan explained that these samples indicate the presence of over 100bn tons of sulfates. Which were then blown into the atmosphere and further alimented by the soot from the ensuing fires. Professor Morgan, part of the Imperial College London is the study’s co-lead.
Research results are set to be further presented in the documentary “The Day the Dinosaurs Died”.
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