“Any historically documented tsunami pales in comparison to such a global impact,” conclude the authors of the study, which describes the scale and consequences of this unique natural disaster.
A group of researchers discovered that the impact of an asteroid 14 kilometers in diameter against Earth caused a tsunami in the Gulf of Mexico that crossed most of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, entering the Indian Ocean from both sides and affecting most from the shores of the world. In the study, published Tuesday in AGU Advances, scientists created a model that demonstrates how the waves moved.
To learn more about the tsunami, the researchers analyzed the Earth’s geology, looking at 120 sectors just before and after the natural disaster. Upon crashing into Earth, the asteroid formed a crater about 100 kilometers wide, and just 2.5 minutes after its fall, a 4.5-kilometer-high wave was raised. Describing the magnitude and impact of this unique natural catastrophe, the study concludes that “any historically documented tsunami pales in comparison to such a global impact.”
Scientists compared the strength of this tsunami and that caused by the December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people. The conclusion is that the initial energy of the tsunami that put an end to the time of the dinosaurs was up to 30,000 times greater. The lead author of the study, Molly Range, stressed that “this tsunami was strong enough to disturb and erode sediments in ocean basins halfway around the world.”
At the same time, the tsunami was not the only consequence of the impact. The asteroid caused the death of many forms of life, among which are the dinosaurs. About three quarters of all plant and animal species that inhabited the Earth in that period disappeared.