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Seismic Exercise after Dinosaur-Killing Chicxulub Affect Lasted Weeks to Months: Research

About 66 million years in the past, an enormous asteroid crashed into Earth close to the positioning of the small city of Chicxulub in what’s now Mexico. This affect coincides with the boundary between the Cretaceous and Paleogene durations and is the possible set off for the final mass extinction in Earth’s historical past. The magnitude of the affect launched vitality equal to 1023 joules, sufficient to generate gigantic earthquakes, mega-tsunamis, and type a crater of 180-200 km (112-124 miles) in diameter within the Yucatan Peninsula. New analysis means that the Chicxulub affect additionally triggered a mega-earthquake so huge that it shook the planet for weeks to months after the collision.

Paintings depicting one dinosaur’s expertise of the Chicxulub affect. Picture credit score: Hermann Bermúdez.

In 2014, Montclair State College researcher Hermann Bermúdez and colleagues discovered the so-called spherule deposits on Colombia’s Gorgonilla Island.

The deposits had been stuffed with small glass beads (as massive as 1.1 mm) and shards generally known as ‘tektites’ and ‘microtektites’ that had been ejected into the environment throughout an asteroid affect.

These glass beads fashioned when the warmth and strain of the affect melted and scattered the crust of the Earth, ejecting small, melted blobs up into the environment, to then fall again to the floor as glass beneath the affect of gravity.

The rocks uncovered on the coast of Gorgonilla Island inform a narrative from the underside of the ocean — roughly 2 km (1.2 miles) down.

There, about 3,000 km (1,864 miles) southwest from the positioning of the affect, sand, mud, and small ocean creatures had been accumulating on the ocean flooring when the asteroid hit.

Layers of mud and sandstone so far as 10-15 m (33-49 toes) beneath the ocean flooring skilled soft-sediment deformation that’s preserved within the outcrops in the present day, which the authors attribute to the shaking from the affect.

Faults and deformation as a result of shaking proceed up via the spherule-rich layer that was deposited post-impact, indicating that the shaking should have continued for the weeks and months it took for these finer-grained deposits to achieve the ocean flooring.

Simply above these spherule deposits, preserved fern spores sign the primary restoration of plant-life after the affect.

“The part I found on Gorgonilla Island is a incredible place to review the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, as a result of it is likely one of the best-preserved and it was positioned deep within the ocean, so it was not affected by tsunamis,” Bermúdez mentioned.

Proof of deformation from the mega-earthquake can be preserved in Mexico and the USA.

On the El Papalote publicity in Mexico, the researchers noticed proof of liquefaction — when robust shaking causes water-saturated sediments to circulate like a liquid.

In Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas, they documented faults and cracks probably related to the mega-quake

Additionally they documented tsunami deposits at a number of outcrops, left by an unlimited wave that was a part of the cascading catastrophes ensuing from the asteroid collision.

“Our knowledge assist clarify the geologic proof that data the tip of the Cretaceous and the start of the Cenozoic and characterizes one of many largest earthquakes skilled by our planet throughout the Phanerozoic,” they mentioned.

The scientists will report their findings this month on the GSA Connects assembly in Denver, Colorado, the USA.


Hermann Bermudez et al. 2022. The Chicxulub Mega-Earthquake: Proof from Colombia, Mexico, and the USA. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Applications 54 (5); doi: 10.1130/abs/2022AM-377578

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