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30 years later, what killed the dinosaurs is revisited
Date:3/4/2010

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, paleoceanographer Richard Norris is one of 41 scientists presenting evidence that an asteroid impact really did kill off dinosaurs and myriad other organisms 30 years after the theory was first proposed.

The researchers are authors of a review paper being released Friday in the journal Science that represents a new salvo in an ongoing controversy over the cause of the mass extinction. Norris' contribution to the paper was evidence in seafloor sediment records that indicate how deep-sea life was profoundly reshaped by the impact.

"The story is a lot stronger now than 30 years ago, when it was admittedly a little more speculative," said Norris. "Since 1980, we have accumulated an overwhelming amount of evidence that there was an impact. We also think the evidence is overwhelming that there was a mass extinction as a direct result of this event."

In that year, father and son researchers Luis and Walter Alvarez first proposed the notion that an asteroid impact killed off the dinosaurs. They had discovered that high levels of iridium, an element rare on Earth but common on extraterrestrial objects like meteors, were uniformly present in sedimentary samples that could be dated back to the extinction event, which marked the transition between two geologic periods.

At the time, they did not know where on Earth that impact might have taken place. It would be another 11 years before researchers Alan Hildebrand and Glen Penfield suggested that a crater left behind by an asteroid impact was buried on the Yucatan peninsula. With the crater nearly 200 kilometers (125 miles) in diameter, the impact was one large enough to have caused the mass extinction in agreement with the Alvarez hypothesis.

The force of the impact itself there is evidence of giant earthquakes and tsunami waves more than 1,000 feet tall being generated in the immediate aftermath and the fol
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Contact: Robert Monroe
scrippsnews@ucsd.edu
858-534-3624
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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