For the first time, we have a detailed picture of what happened in the 24 hours after an asteroid hit the Earth 65 million years ago and caused dinosaurs to become extinct. A research team led by the University of Texas at Austin made the new discoveries using rocks found off the Yucatan Peninsula. They found that the blast ignited a chaotic day of fires, earthquakes, and tsunamis, which led to a prolonged period of global cooling.
The new research allows scientists “to get a really clear snapshot” of what happened that day, according to Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. “This is the most eventful day, almost in the history of the planet.”
That snapshot is a grim one. Pitts said the asteroid was six miles wide – and that when it hit Earth, it created a crater 90 miles wide and 18 miles deep that blew 25 trillion metric tons of material into the atmosphere.
The new research showed scientists that the impact “created a gigantic tidal wave that washed across this continent, and really changed the face of the planet in that location – or, really, changed the face of the planet overall entirely,” Pitts said.
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