A massive asteroid struck earth some 66 million years ago and set off a string of volcanic eruptions that killed off all of the dinosaurs according to a new report from US researchers.
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The cause of the demise of the dinosaurs isn't universally agreed upon between scientists, and the latest findings, according to Discovery News, suggest that there were actually two events: the asteroid and the resulting volcanic eruptions that happened together.
Scientists looked toward the Deccan Traps lava flows in India and found that, thanks to their most accurate dating yet, volcanoes doubled their output around when the asteroid or comet hit, it led to the mass extinction of all dinosaur life on Earth.
"Based on our dating of the lavas, we can be pretty certain that the volcanism and the impact occurred within 50,000 years of the extinction, so it becomes somewhat artificial to distinguish between them as killing mechanisms: both phenomena were clearly at work at the same time," said lead researcher Paul Renne, a University of California, Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science. "It is going to be basically impossible to ascribe actual atmospheric effects to one or the other. They both happened at the same time."
The asteroid and the volcanic eruption together "blanketed the planet with dust and noxious fumes, drastically changing the climate and sending many species to an early grave," said a statement from UC Berkeley.
The impact of the asteroid actually changed the tunnels under the volcanoes, enabling them to shoot off more magma than they traditionally would have, causing a devastation that it took the Earth nearly 500,000 years to recover from.
"If our high-precision dates continue to pin these three events - the impact, the extinction and the major pulse of volcanism - closer and closer together, people are going to have to accept the likelihood of a connection among them," said co-author Mark Richards, also a UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science.
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"The scenario we are suggesting -- that the impact triggered the volcanism -- does in fact reconcile what had previously appeared to be an unimaginable coincidence."