SYDNEY, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Core samples from an asteroid crater about one km below the seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico, appear to indicate that the mass extinction event which is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs also triggered a giant tsunami.
Led by Australia’s Curtin University, a team of researchers drilled deep beneath the Chicxulub crater to retrieve rocks from the 66-million-year-old impact site.
“This research helps answer the tantalising question of exactly what happened in the immediate aftermath of one of the most significant events in Earth’s history,” lead researcher Professor Kliti Grice, from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said on Tuesday.
“The asteroid impact that formed the Chicxulub crater on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, where this research was carried out, is thought to be the cause of the late Cretaceous Period mass extinction event which led to 76 percent of all plant and animal species world-wide, including all non-flying dinosaurs, being killed off.”
“The research team analyzed samples of the peak ring of the Chicxulub crater core for molecules such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), revealing that a tsunami measuring several hundred meters in height flooded the crater within days of the asteroid impact.”
According to Grice, PAH is derived from a pigment made by a fungi that degrades wood.
He said, “the abundance of perylene within the crater is the result of it being transported there by the soil and land plant debris carried by the tsunami.”