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A New Study Shows Exactly How the Dinosaurs Died

Julian Morgans - Vice News
go to original
November 2, 2017

None of the original crater is visible so it's now best seen with a gravity anomaly map. The coastline is shown here as a white line. A series of green and yellow waves reveal the crater's location. White dots represent water-filled sinkholes that dot the crater's ring. (Wiki Commons)

Around 66 million years ago, an asteroid measuring about six miles across smashed into Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and probably wiped out the dinosaurs. The Chicxulub Crater - so named after the nearby town - has long been considered extinction ground zero, but scientists have long argued over the details of the calamity. For example, was it the blast that killed the dinosaurs or the tsunamis?

Now, a group of geophysicists have published the most conclusive evidence that it was neither. Instead, the scientists suggest it was the particular gases the asteroid blew into the atmosphere that created a global winter and starved most species out of existence.

Led by Professor Joanna Morgan from Imperial College London, the team spent several weeks of 2016 drilling for rock samples in the Gulf of Mexico. By analyzing shatter patterns and minerals in the ocean bedrock, they were able to calculate the asteroid's direction and impact speed. They concluded that the asteroid came in from over the modern Atlantic Ocean, slamming into a shallow sea at around 40,000 miles an hour, which is some 50 times the speed of sound. It then punched a hole 18 miles deep, blowing a plume of dust and gas into the sky.

It's been estimated that the subsequent blast was around 10 billion times the size of Hiroshima's. But this study suggests the size of the explosion wasn't the problem - the problem was the particular kind of rock it collided with.

Read the rest at Vice News

Related: The Asteroid That Killed the Dinosaurs Triggered a Global Disaster Far Worse Than Scientists Previously Thought (Business Insider)

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