Raiding the 66 million-year-old crater holding the secrets of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs

(UK TELEGRAPH) — Scientists are traveling back more than 60 million years in history to drill deep under the ocean floor in search of clues about the event that wiped out the dinosaurs, and nearly extinguished life on earth.

Some 15 miles off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, on a platform above the crater left behind when a massive asteroid struck the earth, they are traveling back through 66 million years of the earth’s history.

The area surrounding the crater, known as Chicxulub, is now characterized by serene seas and breathtaking sunsets. But it was once the site of a collision with the force of about 100 million atomic bombs.

Joanna Morgan, a professor of geophysics at Imperial College London and co-chief of the study at Chicxulub, describes the immediate aftermath of the asteroid’s impact:

“The first thing you’d see would be thermal radiation, so it’s very much like a nuclear explosion. You get a great big, expanding vapor plume that then at a certain temperature turns red hot and radiates heat,” she says, explaining that everything within 1000km – an area that on a current map includes Miami to the Northeast, Mexico City to the West and stretches down to Nicaragua to the South – would be incinerated.

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Scientists are traveling back more than 60 million years in history by drilling under the ocean floor for clues about the event that wiped out the dinosaurs.

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