Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Behind Marine Extinctions, Finds New Study

Impact and Aftermath Preserved in Stone

Impact and Aftermath Preserved in Stone

Henehan's research showed a 0.25 pH unit drop 66 million years ago.

The research laid the blame for the mass extinction squarely at the feet of the asteroid as it found no evidence to support a separate theory that volcanic activity was making the oceans more acidic before the giant space rock struck.

It's the main explain link between the loss of life of the dinosaurs and a fascinating tumble in the pH phases of the oceans - indicating a upward thrust in ocean acidity. Pincelli Hull, the geologist from Yale University in CT, also said that ocean acidification could have been the cause of mass extinction in the marine territory.

The Chicxulub impact 66 million years ago generated a tsunami-like wave in an inland sea that killed and buried fish, mammals, insects and a Triceratops, the first victims of a cataclysm that led to Earth's last mass extinction. Scientists had suspected that pH levels had dropped in the ocean - meaning it was more acidic - in the ensuing millennia after the asteroid collision, but no one expected it to be so instantaneous. In warmer waters these contain more impurities.

Specifically, measurements of boron isotopes in foraminifera shells allowed the team to detect changes in the ocean's acidity.

Sediment made up from the single-celled creatures make up nearly 70 per cent of the sea floor in some parts of the world.

The gaze published in Courtroom cases of the National Academy of Sciences stumbled on it took thousands and thousands of years for the oceans to enhance from the acidification.

Henehan and his team at Yale University reconstructed the environmental conditions in the oceans using fossils from deep-sea drill cores and from rocks formed at that time. The impact of the deadly asteroid was gauged by analysing the chemical element boron.

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After the impact, the oceans became so acidic organisms that made their shells from calcium carbonate could not survive.

"In the boundary clay, we managed to capture them just limping on past the asteroid impact", Henehan said. However, it took several million years until the fauna and flora had recovered and the carbon cycle had reached a new equilibrium.

"In most settings, sediment accumulates so slowly that such a rapid event such as an asteroid impact is hard to resolve in the rock record".

"What we can show is that there is no real signal of gradual pH decline in the ocean in the lead-up to the end-Cretaceous mass extinction", Dr. Henehan said.

The impact of a celestial body left traces: the "Chicxulub crater" in the Gulf of Mexico and tiny amounts of iridium in sediments. Planavsky told the New York Times that this rate could be comparable to the flash acidification that followed the dinosaur-killing asteroid.

So, even though the K-T extinction and death of the dinosaurs may seem mythological in relation to today's planetary events, the role ocean acidification played in this apocalyptic episode should not be ignored.

Co-author Professor Daniela Schmidt, of Bristol University, said: "Understanding the cause of this mass extinction, which was the end of so much iconic life on earth has been a goal for decades".

'This extra special dataset gives proof for ocean acidification, affecting organisms which originate shells and skeletons, with knock-on outcomes up the remaining of the food chain'.

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