Science/Tech

Dinosaur Extinction: Blame An Asteroid And Volcanoes

Sixty-six million years ago, asteroids smacked into Earth, which led to the death of dinosaurs. However, this is not the only one that made dinosaurs extinct.

Two new studies were published in the Journal Science. The first one examined the possible connection between the dinosaur extinction and an extraterrestrial collision that caused a gargantuan crater at Chicxulub in Mexico. The seond one focused on huge volcanic eruptions in India as the cause of the said extinction. 

Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for 135 million years, and their time ended about 65 million years ago, or the end-of-the-Cretaceous or Cretaceous-Tertiary-extinction event, often known as the K-T boundary. But the Chicxulub asteroid impact theory was not immediately accepted when it was proposed. 

One of the studies blamed an asteroid and volcanoes for the dinosaur extinction and said there were volcanic eruptions around the end of the Cretaceous period. The papers showed the most precise dates yet for the Indian volcanic eruptions around the end of the Cretaceous period. This was when mass extinction happened about 66 million years ago. During this million-year-long eruption, the volcanoes shot lava flows for hundreds of miles across India, which led to the creation of flood basalts, now called the Deccan Traps. 

“I would say, with pretty high confidence, that the eruptions occurred within 50,000 years, and maybe 30,000 years, of the (asteroid) impact,” senior author and a planetary scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, Paul Renne said.

The study also revealed that their new dating showed about 75 percent of the lava created by the Deccan Traps erupted after the extraterrestrial impact. It confirms that only 20 percent of the lava flowed after the asteroid or comet hit the Earth. 

Another team of researchers from India-UK-US did argon dating. In their study, it was shown that the gas only starts being trapped once a rock solidifies, so the timer starts from the date of the eruption itself. However, the gas can sometimes escape from the rock slowly.

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