Dinosaur-killing asteroid impact triggered months-long ‘mega-quake’, research finds – IGN

The devastating asteroid strike that killed the dinosaurs may have triggered a powerful “mega-earthquake” that shook the Earth for months.

66 million years ago, a massive solar system body – now known as asteroid Chicxulub – collided with Earth, carving out a whopping 180 km (110 mile) wide impact crater in what later became the Yucatan Peninsula.

This collision set off a cataclysmic chain of events which, combined with the devastation caused by the initial strike, wiped out 75% of all life on Earth.

Now, new research analyzing the geological record of this traumatic time in our planet’s history has revealed that the devastating impact could have triggered a ‘mega-quake’ that lasted for weeks or even months before to calm down.

The research was presented Oct. 9 at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America by Hermann Bermúdez of Montclair State University – one of the scientists who worked on the study.

In 2014, Bermúdez discovered a series of tiny spheres and shards of glass, about 1 millimeter in size, buried in the sediments of Gorgonilla Island, located off the west coast of Colombia.

These tiny relics were formed the day the asteroid Chicxulub slammed into the surface. The impact threw large amounts of molten material into the atmosphere, which then merged, cooled, and fell back to Earth as glassy balls and irregularly shaped debris.

At the time the asteroid hit, the site Bermúdez had excavated was actually underwater. Despite being located approximately 3,000 km (1,860 miles) from the impact site, the underwater landscape was distorted by the force of the event. Traces of this deformation – which extended 10 to 15 m (30 to 50 ft) underground – are still evident to this day.

Bermúdez and his co-researchers have also documented faults, fissures, and evidence of a process called liquefaction – in which water-saturated sediment flows freely like water under the vibrating influence of an earthquake. land – in Mexico and the United States.

According to a press release from the Geological Society of America (GSA) describing the presentation, the earthquake that shook the Earth following the extinction event was about 50,000 times more powerful than the earthquake of magnitude 9.1 that devastated Sumatra in 2004.

Researchers found that the disturbance caused by the tremors extended through the layer of sediment from the point where the asteroid struck to where the team found the tiny glass spheres on the island. Gorgonilla.

Geological evidence shows that the super-earthquake must have lasted for the weeks, if not months, it would have taken for debris ejected by the impact to descend through the atmosphere, then into the ocean environment, to settle on the seabed.

Just above this layer, the team discovered the fern spores, which indicated that the environment had stabilized enough at this point to allow plant life to recover.

The damage caused by the earthquake would have added to the devastation caused by the powerful tsunamis and the circulation of atmospheric debris caused by the event.

NASA and its partners recently completed the world’s first planetary defense mission – the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) – during which he crashed a spacecraft on the surface of a distant asteroid in an attempt to alter its orbital path.

The agency hopes this mission is the first step on the path to developing an effective strategy that could one day save our race – and all life on Earth – from the perils of another potentially devastating asteroid strike.

Be sure to check out IGN’s science page to stay up to date with the biggest and weirdest developments in the world of science.

Anthony Wood is a freelance science writer for IGN

Photo credit: Vadim Sadovsky

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