A group of US researchers discovered that the asteroid that caused the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago generated a one-mile-high tsunami that traveled across the entire planet. The team of scientists from the University of Michigan’s Department of Earth Sciences and Environment conducted the first simulation of the tsunami from the beginning “to the end of wave propagation,” as lead researcher Molly Range noted.
The 14-kilometer-diameter Chicxulub space rock impacted the Earth in what is now known as the Gulf of Mexico.
“The Chicxulub asteroid resulted in a huge tsunami,” said Molly Range. “It wasn’t until the beginning of this project that I realized the real scale of this tsunami, and it has been fun research to share,” the researcher added.
For the simulation, the science team turned to Brandon Johnson, a professor at the Brown University in Rhode Island, who is studying impact craters. With his help, the researchers determined that within 10 minutes of the collision with Earth, the asteroid sank to 1,500 meters deep and the explosion was very powerful.
The Asteroid That Killed The Dinosaurs Triggered A One-Mile-High Tsunami
“At that point, the water was moving toward the crater, and after precipitating, it retreated, forming a ‘collapse wave,'” Range said.
The researcher said that “this tsunami moved all over the ocean. In the Gulf of Mexico the water reached 143 kilometers per hour and in the first 24 hours, the effects extended to the Atlantic, as well as through the Central American sea route (which no longer exists, but connected the Gulf to the Pacific).
After the initial wave, other aftershocks occurred in different parts of the Earth. In the South Pacific and North Atlantic, they reached a maximum height of 14 meters. In the North Pacific, waves as high as four meters occurred, and, meanwhile, the Gulf of Mexico experienced 100-meter-high tsunamis.
The most massive modern wave ever recorded in the southern hemisphere was 23.8 meters high and hit near New Zealand in May 2018. Besides, the tsunami that followed the asteroid’s impact became 29,000 times more powerful than the one that hit the Indian Ocean in 2004.