Examining the short and long term effects of the Chicxulub impact is critical for understanding how life developed on Earth. While the aftermath of the initial impact would have produced harmful levels of radiation sufficient for eradicating a large portion of terrestrial life, this process does not explain the concurrent marine extinction. Following the primary impact, a large quantity of smaller spherules would de-orbit and re-enter the earths atmosphere, dispersed nearly uniformly across the planet. This secondary wave of debris would re-enter at high velocities, altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Furthermore, the combined surface area for the spherules would be much larger than for the original asteroid, resulting in considerably more potential reactions. For this reason, a new method was developed for predicting the total amount of toxic species produced by the spherule re-entry phase of the Chicxulub event. Using non-equilibrium properties obtained from direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) methods coupled with spherule trajectory integration, the most likely cause of the observed marine extinction was determined.
Date of this Version
Parkos, Devon; Kulakhmetov, Marat; Johnson, Brandon; Melosh, Henry J.; and Alexeenko, Alina A., "Climatic effects of the Chicxulub impact ejecta" (2012). School of Aeronautics and Astronautics Faculty Publications. Paper 44.