Approximately 66 million years ago, the impact of the Chicxulub asteroid on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico produced a chain reaction that killed 70% of the planet’s species. Famous for causing the dinosaurs extinction, this catastrophic event produced a global shower of incandescent impact rocks. Now a new discovery of some of these rocks, called tektites, on the Colombian Gorgonilla Island gives new data on the magnitude of the catastrophe.
An international team of scientists contributed to this study, whose results have been published in the journal Geology.
Researchers have managed to successfully date these impact rocks, in order to demonstrate that they formed exactly at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary as a result of the impact of the Chicxulub asteroid that caused the great extinction that killed the dinosaurs.
Tektites formed after Chicxulub collided with Earth revealing the magnitude of the catastrophe
The rocks were formed from the impact of the Chicxulub, 10-km asteroid, on the continental shelf. The molten rock, the product of violent friction, rose to outer space where it solidified.
The tektites re-entered the incandescent atmosphere, ‘raining’ all over the planet, but only on the Gorgonilla Island were found intact.
Upon studying the rocks layers, the researchers concluded that the impact with the asteroid caused the sea level to rise, an event which triggered the formation of islands in the area, a theory confirmed by sedimentological analysis.
Also, the researchers depicted the magnitude of the devastating post-impact earthquakes after studying the tektites layers.
The impact with the Chicxulub asteroid triggered a series of environmental disturbances, peaking with a heat pulse of up to 80 degrees Celsius on average, causing many forests to catch fire almost spontaneously. To this, must be added the rain of incandescent impact rocks, the so-called tektites mentioned above. Besides these, massive earthquakes and volcanic eruption, worldwide, caused dinosaurs extinction as well as the death of many other animal and plant species.