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The Possibility of a Second Asteroid Impact During the Extinction of the Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs may have been hit by two or more impacts in a short period of time

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Introduction

A 9-kilometer-wide crater has been discovered near the coast of West Africa, suggesting the possibility of a second asteroid impact during the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The Nadir Crater

The likely impact crater, named the Nadir crater, was found buried beneath the sea floor and is believed to have been caused by a chunk that broke off the Chicxulub asteroid.

  • Discovered by Uisdean Nicholson at Heriot-Watt University
  • Located on the continental shelf off the coast of Guinea
  • Raised rim and signs of ejected material
  • Estimated to have been made by an asteroid around 400 meters in diameter

Possible Connection to Chicxulub Impact

The Nadir crater is believed to have formed around the same time as the Chicxulub crater in Mexico, leading to speculation that they may be connected.

  • Hypothesis: A chunk broke off the Chicxulub asteroid, resulting in two impacts within a few days of each other
  • Comparison to the Shoemaker-Levy comet which was ripped into fragments by Jupiter’s gravity
  • Possibility of the Chicxulub asteroid breaking up into several fragments
  • Potential for other undiscovered impact craters or destroyed craters due to tectonic processes

Alternative Viewpoint

Gareth Collins at Imperial College London suggests that the Nadir crater event may be unrelated to the Chicxulub impact.

  • Uncertainty in dating and interpretation
  • Potential proposal to drill through the Nadir crater and retrieve cores for more precise dating

Effects of the Nadir Impact

The Nadir impact alone wouldn’t have caused a major extinction, but it would have had significant regional effects.

  • Creation of tsunami waves reaching 500 meters in height near the impact site
  • Potential release of carbon and destabilization of methane hydrates, leading to global warming

Conclusion

The discovery of the Nadir crater raises the possibility of a second asteroid impact during the extinction of the dinosaurs, but more research is needed to confirm the connection and understand the full impact of these events.

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