The day dinosaurs died: an asteroid, wildfires, a giant tsunami, then darkness


A new study led by the University of Texas at Austin has confirmed the latter, providing "hard evidence" of an asteroid impact.

When the asteroid that spelt the end of dinosaurs slammed into the Earth 66 million years ago, the impact sparked wildfires, a huge tsunami, and plunged the Earth into such darkness it ultimately killed off most of life on its surface.

"If you were on Earth and within 1500 kilometers (930 miles) of the impact your view would have been very short as the asteroid comes in at 20 kilometers per second and hence a blink of the eye", Gulick told Newsweek.

"Not all the dinosaurs died that day, but many dinosaurs did", Gulick said.

"It's an expanded record of events that we were able to recover from within ground zero", said Gulick, who led the study and co-led the 2016 International Ocean Discovery Program scientific drilling mission that retrieved the rocks from the impact site offshore of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Scientists have thrown light on the day when a giant asteroid smashed into our planet - unleashing a awful firestorm which blotted out the sun, and killed the dinoaurs.

Gulick added that the project presented an unusual opportunity for geologists to read the "rock record", as 130 meters of rock in the crater represented the events of the single day when the asteroid struck.

The impact caused wildfires, tsunamis and put so much sulphur into the atmosphere that it blocked the sun.

Researchers said the impact was equal to the power of 10 billion atomic bombs the size of the one used in World War II.

The impact then generated a tsunami several hundred meters high which reached as far as modern day IL in the US.

Inside the crater, researchers found charcoal and soil fungi in, or just above, layers of sand that show signs of being deposited by rising waters. What's more, researchers said they found evidence that the burned landscape was also pulled into the crater when the tsunami receded. The area around the crater is full of sulfur-rich rocks, and yet no sulfur was found within the core samples.

The impact probably went as follows, based on the rock samples and what we already know about the area surrounding the crater.

More research into this core and others will help scientists paint a better picture of the event that snuffed out most of life on Earth. But there was no sulfur in the core. The team estimates that 325 billion metric tons of sulfur ended up in the atmosphere after the impact, which is orders of magnitude higher than what escaped during the 1883 Krakatoa volcanic eruption.

This caused the climate to cool down in the following years which led to the giant animal species that lived at the time.

Although the asteroid impact created mass destruction at the regional level, it was the change in global climate that caused a mass extinction, killing off the dinosaurs along with most other life on the planet at the time.

"The real killer has got to be atmospheric". "The only way to get a global mass extinction like this is an atmospheric effect".