Site of asteroid impact changed the history of life on Earth: The low probability of mass extinction

Kunio Kaiho, Naga Oshima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid approximately 9 km in diameter hit the hydrocarbon- and sulfur-rich sedimentary rocks in what is now Mexico. Recent studies have shown that this impact at the Yucatan Peninsula heated the hydrocarbon and sulfur in these rocks, forming stratospheric soot and sulfate aerosols and causing extreme global cooling and drought. These events triggered a mass extinction, including dinosaurs, and led to the subsequent macroevolution of mammals. The amount of hydrocarbon and sulfur in rocks varies widely, depending on location, which suggests that cooling and extinction levels were dependent on impact site. Here we show that the probability of significant global cooling, mass extinction, and the subsequent appearance of mammals was quite low after an asteroid impact on the Earth's surface. This significant event could have occurred if the asteroid hit the hydrocarbon-rich areas occupying approximately 13% of the Earth's surface. The site of asteroid impact, therefore, changed the history of life on Earth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14855
JournalScientific reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Site of asteroid impact changed the history of life on Earth: The low probability of mass extinction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this