November 28, 2021

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Dinosaur asteroid’s trajectory was ‘perfect storm’

Dinosaur asteroid’s trajectory was ‘perfect storm’
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionGareth Collins: "The angle changes the mass of material lifted into the atmosphere" (Image: Chase Stone) A clear picture is emerging of why the asteroid that struck Earth 66 million years ago was so catastrophic.The space object, which wiped out 75% of all species including the dinosaurs,…

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Media caption Gareth Collins: “The angle changes the mass of material raised into the atmosphere” (Image: Chase Stone)

Investigations at the crater website, together with computer simulations, recommend the impactor dug into the crust at a disposition of up to 60 degrees.

” At 45 to 60 degrees, the effect is extremely efficient at vaporising and ejecting particles to high elevation.

” It’s obvious that the nature of the area where this event occurred, together with the impact angle, made for a perfect storm,” he told BBC News.

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Media caption Simulation: The effect produces an asymmetry in the structure of the crater

Prof Collins said: “If you run the design at different effect angles, at 30 degrees and at 45 degrees, state, you can’t match the observations – you get centres of mantle uplift and of the peak ring on the downrange side of the crater centre.

And Prof Sean Gulick from the University of Texas at Austin, United States, informed BBC News: “This brand-new modelling supplies a clear response to the angle of the impact and the instructions of the effect that mostly settles a long-standing argument on what was downrange of the impact.


The impact that changed life on Earth

Image copyright
G.Collins

Image caption

Gravity measurements trace the main features of the Chicxulub Crater.

  • Researchers now believe a 12 km-wide object struck Earth 66 million years ago
  • The crater it produced is about 200 km large and is buried mostly offshore
  • On land, it is covered by limestone, but its rim is traced by an arc of sinkholes
  • Professionals drilled into the crater to study its rocks and rebuild the event
  • They state the effect was more than capable of driving a mass termination

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Mexico’s well-known sinkholes (cenotes) have formed in weakened limestone overlying the crater.


Jonathan.Amos-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos

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