The odds were stacked against the dinosaurs when the massive asteroid thought to be about 6-miles-wide slammed into the Earth 66 million years ago. The impact released energy more powerful than billions of atomic bombs and the aftermath killed off 75% of all life on Earth. The event is known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction.
A new study into the event has determined that the asteroid had little more than a 1-in-10 chance of triggering a mass extinction event when it hit the Earth. Part of the reason the impact as so deadly has to do with where it hit the Earth near the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The scientists say that the location had cast reservoirs of crude oil and hydrocarbons in the shallow sea waiting to be set ablaze.
Paleontologist Kunio Kaiho of Tohoku University and Naga Oshima an atmospheric chemist at the Japanese Meteorological Research Institute worked on a previous study that looked at the impact of soot ejected in the atmosphere from organic matter as a reason for the plunging temperatures on Earth and massive extinction event. The new study has found that 60 million years ago, only about 13% of the Earth’s surface had enough organic material to generate the amount of soot needed to kill 75% of life on earth.
The new study finds that had the asteroid impacted any of that other 87% of Earth, the dinosaurs might still be alive today. Naturally, some scientists disagree. Sean Gulick, a geophysicist from the University of Texas at Austin doesn’t believe that soot was the driver that killed the dinosaurs.
Gulick was part of a 2016 drilling project and says that there was little evidence that enough organic material existed at the Chicxulub impact site to support the doomsday soot theory. However, the scientists do agree that the impact location was crucial to the amount of devastation the impact caused. There are several theories as to what events contributed to the mass extinction ranging from acidic oceans to global firestorms, some scientists believe that these global fires caused by hot bits of asteroids raining down across the globe are what created the soot found in clay around the world.
SOURCE: The Washington Post