When the asteroid slammed into our planet some 66 million years ago, its impact caused wildfires, triggered tsunamis, and blasted so much sulfur into the atmosphere that it blocked the sun. Initially, the site of the impact was shallow ocean, less than 30 metres deep.
Professor Sean Gulick, a geoscientist at The University of Texas at Austin, said: 'They are all part of a rock record that offers the most detailed look yet into the aftermath of the catastrophe that ended the Age of Dinosaurs'.
The new research showed scientists that the impact "created a huge 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.
Commenting on the findings, Jay Melosh, from Purdue University and who was not involved in the study, said this research helps expand our understanding of what happened when the asteroid hit.
Gulick led this study, as well as the 2016 International Ocean Discovery Program scientific drilling mission, during which the rocks were retrieved from the impact site offshore of the Yucatan Peninsula.
It has been theorized that when the asteroid hit the material that filled the crater, was created by the impact with water flowing into the crater.
A section of one of the core samples.
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"The research team analysed samples of the peak ring of the Chicxulub crater core for molecules such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), revealing that a tsunami measuring several hundred metres in height flooded the crater within days of the asteroid impact". This showed how the blast ignited trees and plants thousands of miles away from the impact zone, and triggered a far-reaching inland tsunami across the Americas.
Within tens of minutes of the strike, the ring of rock around the impact point was smothered in about 40 meters of melted rock. Inside the crater, researchers found charcoal and a chemical biomarker associated with soil fungi within or just above layers of sand that shows signs of being deposited by resurging waters.
A portion of the drilled cores from the rocks that filled the crater. The absence of sulfur indicates that the asteroid impact "vaporized" rocks forming sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere, according to the scientists. "Not all the dinosaurs died that day, but many dinosaurs did".
Most curiously, however, no sulfur was found in the crater, meaning an estimated 325 billion tons of the element were launched into the atmosphere, destroying Earth's climate in the process and blocking out the sun for a prolonged period. "It was a momentous day in the history of life, and this is a very clear documentation of what happened at ground zero", he said in a statement.
Interestingly, life quickly recovered at the site.
"The real killer has got to be atmospheric", said Gulick. If you were elsewhere on Earth the first effect might well be the natural disaster energy arriving through the ground from the impact or perhaps the arrival of ejecta from the crater raining down and causing heating and wildfires.