Study: Dinosaur-killing space rock may have triggered sea volcanoes

“There’s something there, maybe. Even more glimpses into that time period are coming from research now underway, including about giant tsunamis on what is now inland northern United States and Croatia. 
First published on February 7, 2018 / 5:55 PM A study in Wednesday’s journal Science Advances figures sometime after the asteroid crash, unusual and extra strong eruptions happened on the floor of the oceans, probably in what are now the Pacific and Indian oceans. Clouds of particles reflected the sun’s energy away, darkening the skies and cooling Earth at least 45 degrees for several years, scientists said. New evidence suggests all that shaking triggered massive volcanic eruptions that spewed gases and particles into the air and water too. But if that were true, scientists said there should be evidence of increased volcanic activity elsewhere around the world, including underwater. 

Looking for dinosaur tracks

01:50

This new study found just those eruptions, bolstering the theory that connects hyped-up volcanic activity globally to the initial collision, said study co-author Leif Karlstrom, an Earth sciences professor at the University of Oregon. But this happened on a far bigger scale. Then it got worse. The study authors calculate that those ejected a tremendous amount of molten rock underwater — so much that on land it would cover the entire continental United States a couple hundred feet deep or so. 

Photos: Huge dinosaur skeleton unearthed

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“We’re showing there was a lot more going on than we thought,” said University of Minnesota geophysicist Joseph Byrnes, the study’s lead author. “We’re painting a new sequence of events.”
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These underwater volcanic areas — called mid-ocean ridges — often erupt, even today. Whether it has to do with the impact is more questionable.” Both Melosh and Sean Gulick of the University of Texas, who dug deep into the crater core recently, said the study is based on coincidental timing and doesn’t show a precise physical way the impact could have caused eruptions. Scientists who downplay volcanic effects said the new study doesn’t prove its case. And that big hit set off earthquakes close to 100 times stronger than the biggest we’ve seen in modern times. A study in 2015 suggested that the collision made volcanic eruptions in India that scientists have long known about, called the Deccan traps, far more intense and deadly. Study claims dinosaur-killing space rock may have triggered sea volcanoes

February 7, 2018 / 5:55 PM
/ AP

WASHINGTON — The giant space rock that wiped out the dinosaurs may have set off a chain of cataclysmic volcanic eruptions on land and undersea, claims a new study that is already dividing scientists. “The signal that they see is really kind of feeble,” said Jay Melosh of Purdue University. That doesn’t bother Renne. He said the asteroid collision is an event that only happens once every 100 million years, and the Indian volcanic eruption is the type that happens once every 30 million years, so for the two to happen at the same time and not be related “is really pushing it.” The situation may only be getting more chaotic, though. But there were even more reverberations, possibly deadly ones, the new study says. The whole thing turns into a frothy mess,” said University of California, Berkeley geologist Paul Renne, who wasn’t part of the study but said it “illustrates how intertwined everything else is.” The study’s authors say their work hints that the underwater eruptions helped turn the oceans more acidic and added to extinction carnage, but they said they need more research to go that extra step. Scientists are split, sometimes heatedly, over what really triggered the worst of the extinction, the impact of the crater and its plumes of debris or other upheaval of the Earth’s crust in the wake of the collision. About 66 million years ago, a 6-mile wide asteroid smacked into Earth, creating the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan and sparking deadly chaos. What happened inside the underwater volcanoes is “totally analogous to a can of Coke that gets shaken. Superhot particles rained from the air causing fires across the globe and sending temperatures higher. It doesn’t help that because the ocean floor is so poorly explored, Byrnes and Karlstrom can only pin the date of the eruptions to a wide time band, one million years long. It was enough to kill off three-quarters of the life on Earth, especially most of the creatures and plants on land.

Study: Dinosaur-killing space rock may have triggered sea volcanoes

Then it got worse. Superhot particles rained from the air causing fires across the globe and sending temperatures higher. But if that were true, scientists said there should be evidence of increased volcanic activity elsewhere around the world, including underwater. 

Looking for dinosaur tracks

01:50

This new study found just those eruptions, bolstering the theory that connects hyped-up volcanic activity globally to the initial collision, said study co-author Leif Karlstrom, an Earth sciences professor at the University of Oregon. That doesn’t bother Renne. Whether it has to do with the impact is more questionable.” Both Melosh and Sean Gulick of the University of Texas, who dug deep into the crater core recently, said the study is based on coincidental timing and doesn’t show a precise physical way the impact could have caused eruptions. New evidence suggests all that shaking triggered massive volcanic eruptions that spewed gases and particles into the air and water too. And that big hit set off earthquakes close to 100 times stronger than the biggest we’ve seen in modern times. “The signal that they see is really kind of feeble,” said Jay Melosh of Purdue University. What happened inside the underwater volcanoes is “totally analogous to a can of Coke that gets shaken. It doesn’t help that because the ocean floor is so poorly explored, Byrnes and Karlstrom can only pin the date of the eruptions to a wide time band, one million years long. Clouds of particles reflected the sun’s energy away, darkening the skies and cooling Earth at least 45 degrees for several years, scientists said. “We’re painting a new sequence of events.”
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These underwater volcanic areas — called mid-ocean ridges — often erupt, even today. The whole thing turns into a frothy mess,” said University of California, Berkeley geologist Paul Renne, who wasn’t part of the study but said it “illustrates how intertwined everything else is.” The study’s authors say their work hints that the underwater eruptions helped turn the oceans more acidic and added to extinction carnage, but they said they need more research to go that extra step. He said the asteroid collision is an event that only happens once every 100 million years, and the Indian volcanic eruption is the type that happens once every 30 million years, so for the two to happen at the same time and not be related “is really pushing it.” The situation may only be getting more chaotic, though. “There’s something there, maybe. But there were even more reverberations, possibly deadly ones, the new study says. Even more glimpses into that time period are coming from research now underway, including about giant tsunamis on what is now inland northern United States and Croatia. 
First published on February 7, 2018 / 5:55 PM A study in 2015 suggested that the collision made volcanic eruptions in India that scientists have long known about, called the Deccan traps, far more intense and deadly. Study claims dinosaur-killing space rock may have triggered sea volcanoes

February 7, 2018 / 5:55 PM
/ AP

WASHINGTON — The giant space rock that wiped out the dinosaurs may have set off a chain of cataclysmic volcanic eruptions on land and undersea, claims a new study that is already dividing scientists. Scientists are split, sometimes heatedly, over what really triggered the worst of the extinction, the impact of the crater and its plumes of debris or other upheaval of the Earth’s crust in the wake of the collision. The study authors calculate that those ejected a tremendous amount of molten rock underwater — so much that on land it would cover the entire continental United States a couple hundred feet deep or so. 

Photos: Huge dinosaur skeleton unearthed

11 photos

“We’re showing there was a lot more going on than we thought,” said University of Minnesota geophysicist Joseph Byrnes, the study’s lead author. Scientists who downplay volcanic effects said the new study doesn’t prove its case. It was enough to kill off three-quarters of the life on Earth, especially most of the creatures and plants on land. But this happened on a far bigger scale. About 66 million years ago, a 6-mile wide asteroid smacked into Earth, creating the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan and sparking deadly chaos. A study in Wednesday’s journal Science Advances figures sometime after the asteroid crash, unusual and extra strong eruptions happened on the floor of the oceans, probably in what are now the Pacific and Indian oceans.