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Technology How the dinosaurs died out: Researchers reconstruct hours after an asteroid impact

16:05  10 september  2019
16:05  10 september  2019 Source:   tagesspiegel.de

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An asteroid impact shook the earth 66 million years ago. It is the trigger of the great dinosaur dying.

So starben die Dinosaurier aus: Forscher rekonstruieren Stunden nach Asteroiden-Einschlag © Photo: imago / Science Photo Library This is what the asteroid impact could have looked like 66 million years ago.

“It had been no more than 15 minutes since the T. rex pack was startled by the first light shock. Now they were all dead, as was most of the dinosaurs with whom they had lived. The previously lush forest landscapes and river valleys were on fire. ”

This is how saurian expert Steve Brusatte describes the effects of a massive asteroid impact 66 million years ago on a region thousands of kilometers away. A current study now suggests that such events could actually have happened in the hours after the impact of the massive asteroid with a diameter of more than 10 kilometers.

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The impact that caused the extinction of all large dinosaurs could have caused tsunamis and bush fires and released huge amounts of sulfur. This hypothesis has now been substantiated by researchers led by Sean Gulick from the University of Texas (USA) with the evaluation of a drill core from the impact crater, as they write in the "Proceedings" of the US Academy of Sciences ("PNAS").

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The examined Kern comes from a section of a ring-shaped chain of hills (“peak ring”) in the impact crater. The section is underwater off the coast of the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula. At this point, a 130-meter-thick layer of deposits formed in the 24 hours after the impact, the scientists write. They consist of different layers.

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According to the researchers, a tsunami from the impact came back through reflections on the coast. Among other things, he deposited charcoal in the crater. Gulick's team interprets the coal as an indication of bush fires caused by the impact. The tsunami could have brought sea water far into the interior of the surrounding continents; charred plant remains could have been carried away when the water ran back into the sea.

The researchers also found evidence that it was sulfur-containing aerosols that changed the global climate after the asteroid impact. As is known from volcanic eruptions, the sulfur-containing aerosols partially shield sunlight. As a result, photosynthesis in plants can decrease and food chains can break down. At the time, this could have led to the loss of around 75 percent of all life.

"The only way to a global mass extinction like this is an atmospheric effect," Gulick is quoted in a statement from his university. He and his colleagues examined the proportion of sulfur-containing rocks in the core. It was less than one percent, although the bedrock contains 30 to 50 percent of it. The researchers took this as an indication that large amounts of sulfur compounds, such as by evaporation, had been released into the atmosphere. (dpa)

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