Dinosaur-killing space rock may have led to the sea volcanoes

WASHINGTON – The giant space rock that wiped out the dinosaurs may have a chain of cataclysmic volcanic eruptions on land and underwater, a new study is already dividing scientists.

About 66 million years ago, a 6-foot-wide asteroid smashed into the Earth, creating the Chicxulub crater in Yucatan and sparks deadly chaos. Superhot particles rained from the air, causing fires all over the world, and the sending of higher temperatures. Then it is even worse. Clouds of dust particles reflected the energy of the sun, darkening the sky and cooling of the Earth at least 45 degrees (25 degrees Celsius) for several years, scientists said. And that big hit set off earthquakes almost 100 times stronger than the largest that we have seen in modern times.

It was enough to kill off three quarters of life on Earth, especially most of the plants and animals on the land.

However, there were still more reflection, possibly deadly, the new study says.

New evidence suggests all that shaking triggered huge volcanic eruptions that spewed gases and particles in the air and the water. A study Wednesday in the journal Science Advances figures somewhere after the asteroid crash, unusual and extra-strong eruptions occurred on the bottom of the oceans, probably in what is now the pacific ocean and the Indian ocean. The authors of the study calculate that ejected a huge amount of molten rock underwater so much that on the country would cover the entire continental United States, a few hundred meters deep or so.

“We see there was much more going on than we thought,” said University of Minnesota geophysicist Joseph Byrnes, the study’s lead author. “We are painting a new series of events.”

This underwater volcanic areas — the so-called mid-oceanic ridges — often erupt, even today. But this happened on a much larger scale.

What happened in the undersea volcanoes “is completely analogous to a can of Coke that is shaken. The whole thing turns into a foaming mess,” said University of California, Berkeley geologist Paul to run from, which was not part of the study, but said it “illustrates how interwoven everything is different.”

The authors of the study say that their work hints that the submarine eruptions helped turn the oceans more acidic, and added to the extinction massacre, but they said they need more research to go that extra step.

Scientists are divided, sometimes heatedly, about what really led to the worst of the extinction, the impact of the crater and plumes of debris or other agitation of the earth’s crust in the aftermath of the collision. A study in 2015 suggested that the collision created volcanic eruptions in India that scientists have long known about, called the Deccan traps, a lot more intense and deadly.

But if that was true, scientists said there should be evidence of increased volcanic activity elsewhere in the world, including underwater.

This new study found that eruptions, strengthening the theory that connects the hyped up volcanic activity worldwide the first collision, said study co-author Leif Karlstrom, an Earth sciences professor at the University of Oregon.

Scientists who trivialize volcanic effects, said the new study does not prove that to be the case.

“The signal they see is really a kind of weak,” said Jay Melosh of Purdue University. “There is something there, maybe. Or it has to do with the impact is more the question.”

Both Melosh and Sean Gulick of the University of Texas, who dug deep into the crater core recently, said the study is based on coincidental timing, and not a precise physical way, the impact may have caused the eruptions. It doesn’t help that because the bottom of the sea is so poorly researched, Byrnes and Karlstrom can only pin the date of the eruptions of a good time band, a million years long.

That doesn’t bother to run from. He said that the asteroid collision is an event that happens only once every 100 million years, and the Indian volcanic eruption is the type that happens once in 30 million years, so for the two happen at the same time and not related “is really pushing it.”

The situation can only be more and more chaotic, but: Yet more insight into that period are taken from a study now going on, also about giant tsunamis what is now the inland in the north of the United States and Croatia.


Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears . His work can be found here .

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