Scientists reconstruct asteroid impact that killed dinosaurs

Scientists reconstruct asteroid impact that killed dinosaurs

A reconstruction of the deadly asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago helped scientists describe how the asteroid produced its huge crater.

To reconstruct that event, a team of scientists, led by Prof. Joanna Morgan from Imperial College London, drilled into the remnant bowl and analyzed its rocks. They concluded that the massive impact made Earth’s hard surface slosh back and forth like a fluid.

A mountain, which was likely higher than the Everest, was thrown up high into the sky before it collapsed back into a smaller range of peaks. Prof. Morgan added that the entire event was complete within minutes.

Prof. Sean Gulick from University of Texas, Austin, explained, “If this deep-rebound model is correct, then our peak ring rocks should be the rocks that have travelled farthest in the impact - first, outwards by kilometres, then up in the air by over 10km, and back down and outwards by another, say, 10km … they do that in under 10 minutes.”

A 15 kilometer-wide space rock dug a hole in the crust nearly 100 kilometers across and 30 kilometers deep. Then, the bowl collapsed, leaving a crater 200 km across and a few kilometers deep.

The team reached the conclusion by drilling a core through the Chicxulub Crater, which is buried under ocean sediments off the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

The researchers reported their findings in the most recent edition of Science Magazine, a periodical magazine that publishes news, opinions and reports about science.


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