chixilub impactor
Original Published Date: 
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Full article issued by Curtin University.

ARC-supported researchers from Curtin University took part in a scientific expedition to retrieve core samples from a crater in the Gulf of Mexico, and have uncovered evidence that the asteroid that caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs also triggered a giant tsunami.

The researchers include Discovery Project grant recipient, John Curtin Distinguished Professor Kliti Grice, from the WA-Organic and Isotope Geochemistry Centre in Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, who said the team drilled into the crater in order to retrieve rocks from 500m to 1300m below the seafloor, finding evidence of the events of the days after impact. Pieces of charcoal and soil found in the thickly layered ocean sediments point to a giant tsunami hundreds of metres high, which flooded the crater in aftermath of the impact.

The asteroid impact that formed the Chicxulub crater on the Yucatán 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 per cent of all plant and animal species world-wide, including all non-flying dinosaurs, being killed off.

Photo credit: 

Researchers have found evidence that the asteroid that caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs also triggered a giant tsunami. Image: Wikipedia (Public Domain).