Scientists have found that the meteorite that destroyed Earth’s dinosaurs ignited wildfires thousands of miles away from its impact zone.
At the end of the Cretaceous period 66 millions years ago, the meteorite measured six miles in width struck the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico.
Scientists believe that the devastating impact of this event caused the sudden end to the reign of dinosaurs. It also led to the abrupt end of nearly three quarters of all plant and animal species currently living on Earth.
There have been many theories about the causes of the wildfires that were caused by the strike.
A team of geoscientists from Brazil, Mexico, and the UK analysed rocks dating back to the strike. They discovered that some fires erupted within minutes of the impact.
Experts found that the fires affected areas up to 1,553 miles from the point where Earth was struck.
A new study has shown that wildfires in coastal areas are short-lived due to the mega-tsunami’s backwash, which swept charred trees off the coast.
Geoscientists discovered from studying fossilized tree bark that fires had already started by the time the trees were removed soon after impact.
The scientists concluded that the cause was either a massive fireball or heat from the droplets of melted rocks falling through the atmosphere immediately after impact.
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Professor Ben Kneller, University of Aberdeen, was a co-author of this study. He said that it is not clear if the fires were caused by the impact or later, when vegetation dies from the post-impact darkness. This was caused by debris being thrown into the atmosphere and set ablaze with lightning strikes.
“Ultimately, our research confirms when and how these fires started and paints an evocative and frightening picture of what occurred in the immediate aftermath.
Shell Brazil supported the study under its Science without Borders program. The results were published in Scientific Reports.