The asteroid did not kill the dinosaurs on its own since it may have received some help from other sources, according to researchers.
About 66 million years ago, an asteroid that was 6 miles (9.6 kilometres) long smashed into the Earth which led to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs, or at least this is what most scientists say.
However, a report that was published Tuesday in the journal Science says that the force of the impact may have caused volcanic eruptions all over the world, which may have harmed the dinosaur population more than the asteroid impact did.
Paul Renne, a professor of geology in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) said that the mass extinction of the dinosaurs has been an ongoing debate for ages and it still remains one of the most intriguing mysteries in the Earth’s history. “How do you just wipe out such a large, diverse, and dominant kind of animal forever, in the blink of an eye? It is an amazing thing,” Renne stated.
During the Cretaceous period all of the dinosaurs that lived on land and in water, as well as other species of animals were wiped off the face of the Earth. That specific moment in time is called K-T boundary or the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary.
The asteroid struck the Earth in the Gulf of Mexico and left a crater more that 110 miles (180 kilometres) in diameter and about 12 miles (20 kilometres) in depth, called the Chicxulub crater.
The Deccan Traps – located in India – represent one of the biggest volcanic formations on Earth, and are situated about 9,000 miles (14,484 kilometres) away from the Chicxulub crater in Mexico. Scientists believe that the Deccan Traps date back to the asteroid collision.
When they erupt, volcanoes release not only lava, but also massive amounts of ash and gasses, which is why they may have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
According to Dr. Renne, an asteroid impact similar to the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary one is likely to happen once every billion years on our planet. Volcanic eruptions are more common, although the chances that a huge asteroid impact and a volcanic outburst would occur at the same time are very slim. That is why there has got to be a link between the two, Renne says.
Scientists believe that a huge asteroid could produce seismic energy that is similar to an earthquake with a magnitude of 11. In 2014 the biggest earthquake was in Chile and it had a magnitude of 8.2 on the Richter scale.
At such a big magnitude, the asteroid impact would have triggered the huge eruption of the Deccan Traps in India. The lava from the eruption would have covered an area the size of Nevada and Utah combined, having a thickness of about 1 mile (1.6 kilometres).
The gasses that were thrown into the atmosphere – mainly methane and carbon dioxide – might have increased global temperature. At the same time, the sulphate aerosols may have blocked the sunlight, leaving the Earth in complete darkness and as a result, it might have caused a global cooling. Both of these things led to powerful climate fluctuations which definitely affected the dinosaurs.