Drawing of dinosaurs

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Geologists keep evidence documenting the Earth's worst day, of course 66 million years ago.

The log is a rock fragment from a buried crater in the Gulf of Mexico, sediments formed after a massive asteroid fell into the Earth.

This highlights an event that researchers now believe is responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs and the dominance of mammals.

A joint US-British team was able to recount the disaster with high precision, after spending several weeks in 2016 exploring the remains of a crater formed by the collision.

The crater, which is 200 kilometers wide, is located below the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The best preserved central parts are located off the coast of Chichulup port.

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Max Alexander / B612 / Asteroid Day

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A rock extracted from a crater off the coast of Chichulup port in Mexico

The team was able to extract a large mass of rock containing a particular part that essentially documents the first day of the event, which geologists call the beginning of the "era of modern life", or as others like to refer to it as "the age of mammals."

This part is a mixture of shattered material. By arranging the contents, scientists say, they can create a clear narrative of what happened.

The glass debris covers the bottom of the crater, a heat-and-pressure-melted rock that intervened at the bottom during the seconds and minutes after the event.

This led to the formation of a lot of melted and fragmented rocks as a result of explosions accompanied by a burst of water over the hot material.

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Max Alexander / B612 / Asteroid Day

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Popular watercourses in Mexico

The flow of water from a shallow sea that covered the area at the time, driven to a path temporarily off course by the event. However, when the water receded inward and came into contact with the boiling hot rock, there were violent reactions, something like volcanoes, when molten lava interacted with seawater.

This phase includes the period of the first minutes to 60 minutes, as the water continued to flow and filled the hole. The main upper part is 80-90 meters long from all the debris that was in this water.

There is also evidence to the right of the main upper part of the length of 130 meters indicating the occurrence of a tsunami, noting that all sediments sink in one direction, indicating that they were deposited by high-energy activity.

Scientists say that the impact led to the creation of a vibrational wave from a giant wave, which collided with the coasts extending hundreds of kilometers from the crater, and this external propulsion was a vibrating recession, and the debris carried by the tsunami covered the top of the rock sequence.

"All this is still on the first day," says Sean Gulick of the University of Texas at Austin.

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Picture showing the effect of a massive tsunami

"The tsunami is moving rapidly with a jet plane. Twenty-four hours is a big time for the waves to scramble and recede," he told the BBC.

Gulick's team is confident in the explanations provided by the tsunami because the difference of sediment is a marker in the soil, and coal – evidence of the great fires that occurred on nearby land masses because of the impact of heat, all returned to the pit by the oscillation of the ebb wave.

One thing that has caught the attention of scientists is the presence of sulfur, something the team doesn't see anywhere else in the center of the hole. This is surprising because the asteroid hit the seabed, one-third to half of which contains sulfur-containing minerals, such as gypsum.

For some reason, sulfur must have been specifically ejected or evaporated, but this only supports the common theory of how dinosaurs have become extinct.

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The evaporation of a lot of sulfur mixed with water will cool the climate considerably, making life extremely difficult for all kinds of plants and animals.

"A global climate model dominated by only 100 gigatonnes of sulfur evaporated into the atmosphere and cooled the climate by 25 degrees Celsius for at least 15 years, putting most of the planet in freezing," says Gulick.

"The moderate estimate of the amount of sulfur emitted is 325 gigatonnes. This is much larger than any volcano like Krakatau, which can also cool the climate for a short time."

Mammals managed to overcome this catastrophe, and dinosaurs could not become extinct.


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