Science

Deadly Asteroid Triggered Massive Underwater Volcanoes

The asteroid that crashed onto Earth 66 million years ago measured six miles across and it created the huge Chicxulub crater located in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Following the impact, the asteroid possibly caused many cataclysmic events that were responsible for nearly 70% of the flora and fauna to be wiped out off the planet, including dinosaurs. Now, researchers found that the giant rock that crashed onto Earth had triggered acid rains, increase in temperatures and massive underwater volcanoes.

Massive Underwater Volcanoes
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“Our work suggests a connection between these exceedingly rare and catastrophic events, distributed over the entire planet,” University of Oregon professor and study co-author Leif Karlstrom was quoted in a statement. “The meteorite’s impact may have influenced volcanic eruptions that were already going on, making for a one-two punch.”

In order to determine this connection, researchers studied and analyzed the oscillations in the strength of seafloor gravity. They made a statistical model which dates back to 100 million years ago and discovered the odd change in gravity. Such spikes in gravity occur followed with huge magma eruptions. The time of that gravity spike also corresponds with the event when the massive asteroid crashed, 66 million years ago lasting roughly one million years.

“We found evidence for a previously unknown period of globally heightened volcanic activity during the mass-extinction event,” lead author Joseph Byrnes explained, and that it likely triggered massive underwater volcanoes. “This study does not say precisely that this volcanic activity is what killed the dinosaurs. What we are adding to the conversation is a global volcanic activity during the known environmental crisis.”

However, another study which was published in the journal Geology suggests that the strong volcanism which was present in India’s Deccan Traps is responsible for wiping out Tyrannosaurus rex and other dinosaurs, or at least started their mass extinction. The strong volcanic activity was present prior to the asteroid impact.

According to the study, the volcanism is what weakened the climate and changed the temperatures, while the strike of a meteor is thought to be the final strike which would mean the end of days for non-avian dinosaurs.

The study which was published in the journal Science Advances sheds light on massive underwater volcanoes which likely became active after the impact. The asteroid crashing onto Earth could have triggered those strong eruptions at the bottom of the Indian and Pacific oceans, which caused eruptions in the Deccan Traps’ in present-day India even more aggressive.

The volcanic ash that the volcano spewed likely affected life and made oceans full of acids, which likely resulted in the mass extinction of the dinosaurs and 70% of plant and animal life on Earth.

“Our work suggests a connection between these exceedingly rare and catastrophic events, distributed over the entire planet,” said  Karlstrom. “The meteorite’s impact may have influenced volcanic eruptions that were already going on, making for a one-two punch.”