Scientists find evidence that dinosaur-killing asteroid caused tsunami from miles high

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Scientists have discovered huge fossilized ripples underground in Louisiana, supporting the theory that a giant asteroid struck the sea near the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico 66 million years ago and caused a tsunami of a kilometer high.

Scientists speculated that a space rock struck the water and raised a layer of dust that obscured the sun for a long time, lowering temperatures and eventually killing the dinosaurs.

A tsunami in the Gulf of Mexico was generated by the event, known as the Chicxulub impact. Some experts believe the deadly wave was a mile and a half high. The tsunami hit North America, and smaller waves followed.

Scientists now believe they have discovered evidence of this event in central Louisiana.

About 66 million years ago, an asteroid crashed into the earth, triggering a massive tsunami and eventual extinction of the dinosaurs.
Alex Antropov / Zenger

“It’s great to have evidence of something that has been theorized for a very long time,” said Sean Gulick, a geophysicist at the University of Texas.

To find ancient underground structures, scientists use industrial hammers or set off explosives in the earth. The seismic instruments then measure the vibrations to create images based on the reflections of the many layers of rock and sediment beneath them.

Energy companies use the same technique to search for gas and oil, revealing a wealth of data that scientists can use for research, especially in regions around the Gulf of Mexico.

University of Louisiana geophysicist Gary Kinsland obtained seismic images from Devon Energy over a decade ago.

Sea level was higher at the time of the collision with the asteroid, and Kinsland believed the area contained clues to what had happened in the shallow waters off what was then the north coast. American – now far inland.

Kinsland and his colleagues analyzed a layer about 1,500 meters (just under a mile) below the ground and found fossilized ripples spaced half a mile apart with an average height of about 3 feet.

Asteroid hitting earth
When an asteroid crashed into what is now the Gulf of Mexico 66 million years ago, it triggered a series of catastrophic events known as the Chicxulub Impact.
Geralt / Zenger News

Scientists believe the ripples are the imprint of tsunami waves as they approached shore in water about 197 feet deep, disturbing sediments on the seabed.

Kinsland said the orientation of the mega-ripples was also consistent with Chicxulub’s impact, and he said the location was ideal for preserving ripples for eons. “The water was so deep that once the tsunami was over, the regular storm surges could no longer disturb what was there,” he said.

The Chicxulub impact was first issued in the 1980s. Core from a 2016 drilling expedition revealed details of the formation of the impact crater.

Researchers in North Dakota, about 1,900 miles north of Chicxulub, discovered a fossil site in 2019 that they say recorded hours after impact and includes debris carried inland by the tsunami.

“We have small pieces of the puzzle that keep getting added,” said Alfio Alessandro Chiarenza, paleontologist at the University of Vigo in Spain.

“Now this research is another, giving more evidence of a cataclysmic tsunami that likely flooded [everything] over thousands of kilometers. “

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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