Scientists call it the Chicxulub impactor, a massive asteroid that slammed into the Earth off the coast of Mexico some estimated 66 million years ago. The dinosaur extinction is believed to be one of the results of this crash. Its impact crater is about 110 miles across, making it the third largest crater identified on our planet.
Now scientists have determined that in addition to vaporizing vast areas of plant life, the impact might have created gigantic tidal waves and sent enormous plumes of ash into the atmosphere. It probably triggered volcanic eruptions thousands of miles away, in India.
Underwater Volcanoes, Activated by the Asteroid?
Furthermore, it now seems likely that the asteroid impact produced huge underwater volcanoes as well. However, these were created thousands of miles away, between southern Africa and Australia.
These disastrous upheavals combined to turn the entire surface of the planet into a dark, cold, gritty hell. Because ash blocked out the sun on a global basis, the average temperature of the planet plummeted. This led to frigid cold weather conditions sure to doom the dinosaurs to have survived the initial blast.
Scientists have been able to glean a more detailed picture of what happened so long ago by measuring changes in gravity on the ocean floor. When magma spewed up onto the ocean bottom, it created huge mounds of rock which changed the gravitational signature of those locations. This is something that is still measurable today.
It’s also likely that underwater volcanoes after the Chicxulub impactor boiled water into steam. This might have added to the hazy atmospheric soup that choked off the skies and lower atmospheres.
Scientists are still puzzled by one other aspect of the event as well. Namely, the lack of evidence for volcanic activity in proximity to the Chicxulub crater itself. It seems clear that the crash caused volcanoes to erupt on opposite sides of the globe, but it seems to have triggered no such reaction right at the point of impact.